Cities as Spyware

Have you heard about “smart cities”? Guess what? They are a marketing research operation.

This, of course, is no surprise to those of us hip to what corporate capitalism really is. By its nature, it fuels an ever-growing marketing race, which itself requires more and more spaces, places, experiences, and entities to become platforms for commodity-promotion.

Consider LinkNYC. It is run by Intersection, which is a corporate marketing agency.

Here is how Intersection’s Chief Revenue Officer describes LinkNYC, which, again, his firm runs:

With award-winning products like LinkNYC, the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in the world, Intersection connects the digital and physical worlds, enhancing people’s journeys through their cities and offering brands the opportunity to drive more relevant and engaging advertising, rooted in real-world context.

Source: Advertising Age, June 20, 2019

So, yes, sports fans, the moment has arrived: American towns and cities are now themselves data-gathering tools for our behavior-engineering overclass. Big business marketing is now bigger than the biggest metropolises, which it now treats as just another deployable asset.

All, of course, with the help of our dear liberal leaders.

What is Spotify?

“According to its most recent publicly-available measure, Spotify has 45 million active users that can receive ads, and another 30 million subscribers.” So reports Advertising Age today.

What is the purpose?

“With Spotify and Krux working together, we have access to first-party data allowing us to better target specific people and user groups such as those looking for auto insurance and commuters,” said Cyndie Beckwith, VP-marketing at Esurance. “For this initiative, we wanted to add on some similar targeting approaches that we’ve been leveraging across desktops to streaming audio, and in particular mobile streaming audio.”

Listening to playlists is an increasingly common experience on Spotify, and the company is investing in analyzing such listening data and enhancing it with third-party demographic information — some of which Krux provides, such as education status and household income. The company tracks when specific users listen to playlists, for example when someone starts a “running” playlist around the same time most mornings, it can be used to determine that that person is actually running during those times.

Spotify has grown to use such data as a proxy for determining user activities and moods, said Brian Benedik, global head of sales at Spotify. An adult activating a playlist of kids’ music is likely a parent, for example.

Data harvesting and real-time marketing are the purpose. Spotify is overclass spyware.