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Smart devices designed to make our lives easier are in millions of homes. Hasn’t everyone received an Alexa device for Christmas over the past few years? It’s great to be able to turn on your lights from your phone, play music for you, or ask Alexa a quick question for more information to support a conversation you’re having. However, there may be more going on than you realize.
More and more people have noticed receiving online ads, or even telemarketing phone calls after chatting about a certain subject. Recently, a guy was chatting with a neighbor about deck stains. A bit later he was on his computer, and lo and behold – deck stain ads! I’m sure we’ve all had a similar experience of sorts.
The data and recordings of your interactions with your devices is compiled to create a profile of your interests. This information is often times sold to marketing companies. In a recent study, researchers tested to determine in addition to recording what you request, what else is Amazon doing with the recorded information. Researchers created personas that interacted with the Alexa device by asking about things of interest, installing Alexa skills and read websites related to the interests. Additionally, a control group of personas was also created. The control group didn’t have specific interests, with minimal interaction with Alexa.
It is interesting to examine the findings. Advertisers were willing to pay a significant amount more in order to show ads to the personas that had specific interest. However, advertisers were only willing to pay more when the interest was timely. For example, they would pay more only shortly after a persona began asking about an interest. This indicates that Alexa is also listening for when and how often you are asking about certain topics.
The future is here . . .
Here is a good article that helps with controlling settings to minimize the impact of devices that listen.