General Motors Tracked The Listening Habits Of Drivers For Three Months

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General Motors Tracked The Listening Habits Of Drivers For Three Months

Monetizing the consumer at every opportunity

By Shawn Knight, TECH SPOT

October 18, 2018

A hot potato: This highlights the bigger trade-off in dealing with connected appliances in general. Sure, they often afford a new level of convenience, but at what cost? Why can’t the initial sale or a recurring subscription fee be enough? Why does it seem that everyone suddenly wants to build detailed profiles and monetize consumer behavior?

General Motors from November 2017 through January 2018 tracked the listening habits of roughly 90,000 drivers in Los Angeles and Chicago including what stations they listened to, the volume level and the ZIP codes of vehicle owners.

The data, collected from users who volunteered to participate in the experiment, was then analyzed to determine the relationship between what drivers listen to and their consumer behavior.

In other words, listening data like this could theoretically be passed along to partners to improve targeted advertising.

In one example, GM found that a listener who frequently tuned in to a country and western channel stopped at a Tim Hortons restaurant. If this driver had been exposed to an ad for McDonald’s, would they have gone there instead?

GM spokesperson Jim Cain told the Detroit Free Press earlier this month that the experiment has generated interest in the advertising and broadcast communities “but we don’t have any new projects to announce at this time.”

According to John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project, “we would all be much better off if GM simply stuck to selling cars and improving their vehicles, particularly with an eye toward improving safety.”

Targeted advertising is a slippery slope. On one hand, it makes sense that people would rather be subjected to ads that are relevant to their interests. The problem, of course, is that collecting the necessary data to do so is viewed by many as an invasion of privacy.

Don’t expect this to go away, either. As technology increasingly creeps into vehicles, the amount of data collected is only going to increase exponentially. Eventually, every aspect of vehicle ownership will be monetized.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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