xrematon

August 7, 2012

Which one is the real me?

Filed under: Business,Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 7:26 am
Tags: , ,

Thanks to my work, I spend inordinate amounts of time online, googling many different search terms. I have just checked what comes up on my web history and it appears that I carry out between 600 and 1350 searches a month…

Why do I bring this up? Well, I have been interested by a couple of recent articles which have highlighted there is more going than I might be aware of when  I am busy clicking away. It seems that I am being watched – and that this can for better, and perhaps for worse.

Let’s start with the good news. It turns out that analysing people’s pattern of internet usage can reveal their mental state – it is possible to spot who may be depressed as they behave differently to those with better mental wellbeing. An important point to note, however, is that the study is unable to determine whether depression causes this differing pattern of use, or vice versa — or more importantly, whether this internet behaviour worsens, alleviates or has no effect on mood problems.

A depressed person might use gaming and video watching to avoid coping with emotional pain, or gaming could actually be a healthy escape that helps lift one’s mood. Similarly, excess chatting and emailing might be a sign that someone is reaching out for helpful support, or it could signal desperation and anxiety related to socialising.

The not so good news is more devious than creepy. It’s a piece from The Economist which describes how some businesses are now  using information from cookies stored in people’s browsers to influence the price they offer to these potential customers. Those that who don’t come across as short of cash – they look at expensive items, use an Apple Mac or seem to be a hurry to make the purchase – risk being charged a higher price than someone who came from a price comparison site and was clearly willing to invest time in finding a good deal. The latter group are more likely to benefit from getting a discount in order to tempt them on.

So far, in terms of my own web browsing history, I should be alright. Given that I have looked at celebrity golfers and golf course designs one week, and then followed it up with an intense delve into PepsiCo and Coca Cola, I am pretty sure I remain an enigma to those cookies-watchers.

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