The Daily You | Joseph Turow

Summary of: The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth
By: Joseph Turow


In ‘The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth,’ author Joseph Turow delves into the world of personalized digital advertising and its impact on individual consumers. By examining the advertising industry’s ability to collect and build extensive profiles on individuals, this book summary sheds light on the techniques and principles behind digital marketing’s increasing effectiveness. Readers can expect to gain insights on the various data-mining activities of the industry, the challenges faced by the traditional media, and the growing consumer concerns over targeted advertising and discrimination.

Customized Advertising and Its Implications

“The Daily Me” was a hypothetical idea for personalized electronic newspapers based on extreme content customization, crafted by Nicholas Negroponte in the 1990s. Fast forward to today, and the advertising industry is using computers and the Internet to assemble unprecedented arrays of facts and figures about individual consumers. Through this, marketers can send personally relevant advertisements to targeted people, increasing the chance of a sale. However, this has a dark side. Companies are assembling sophisticated data on consumer habits and attitudes by stealth, using detection and data-mining activities outside of public awareness. Once marketers take consumer targeting to the next logical step – and some already have – discrimination starts to emerge, as advertisers offer favored customers better deals. This kind of marketing could magnify social divisions and render traditional media’s advertising less relevant and sustainable.

Mining Consumers’ Data

Companies are gathering information on consumers by mining their digital footprints. For instance, Rapleaf collects data from social networks and blogs, claiming to have amassed information on over 400 million people. Meanwhile, Next Jump in the US offers discounts to employees and ranks them according to their spending habits, influencing special offers sent by advertisers. The aim of such data gathering is to activate buying impulses. For example, imagine a family with three children who eat out frequently and receive coupons for junk food. In turn, they start receiving information about weight-loss plans from firms. This can have negative consequences, with a 15-year-old daughter feeling embarrassed by dieting texts and the fictional father irritated when offered down-market cars instead of luxury sedans. Although this is hypothetical, it could soon become a reality.

The Rise of Targeted Online Marketing

Targeted online marketing has evolved from the media buying companies that used sophisticated research to plan campaigns across various print, broadcast, and online outlets. Media buyers and planners gradually took control of the communication process, making the role of “creative” staff lesser. The trend received a boost from the web, where media buyers realized the useful targeting information data collectors could gather and analyze from every click of a consumer’s mouse. Marketers found that customer profile-based ads performed better than traditional ads, and the advertising industry tracks, processes, and sells clients’ products to individual consumers based on at least 800 different traits. However, this activity can harm traditional publishing ethics by forcing media outlets to adapt their editorial content to advertisers’ demands.

Untold Truths of Targeted Advertising

Targeted advertising dominates the world of advertising, with companies collecting data from media firms, public records, and individual computer cookies. While this allows for personalized discounts and coupons, it raises privacy concerns, especially with sensitive information such as health, mental health, and sexual preference. Even with anonymous cookies, technicians can uncover individual post office and email addresses through registrations or sweepstake forms. Marketers are interested in obtaining detailed information to target their audience, but retailers fear that customers might figure out how to beat the system. Targeted advertising may be legal, but it raises serious ethical questions.

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