This poll is now closed, but here are the results of KDnuggets Poll:
The poll was motivated by the story in New York Times by Charles Duhigg: How Companies Learn Your Secrets which detailed Target success in using analytics to identify pregnant women from changes in their buying habits, has spread like a storm across media, and the reaction was mostly negative, although it was not clear what exactly Target did wrong.
Perhaps the best summary was
"Target's defensiveness was fascinating precisely because we haven't quite figured out where the crepy/not creepy line is." ( In Behind the Cover Story: How Much Does Target Know?)
The Forbes article (which reported on the original NYTimes story but had a much catchier headline) How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did received huge interest, with over 1 million views.
Here is the original presentation during a
PAW 2010: Predictive Analytics World Conference talk by Andrew Pole from Target
and here is
Eric Siegel trying to explain Target analytics on FOX News.
Felix Salmon response touched on the source of uneasiness: the
uncanny valley of advertising in his post:
Target, Google, and privacy
A bigger part, though, is what I've called the uncanny valley of advertising - the way that we feel that we're being spied on, when a big faceless corporation seems to know very intimate things about us. Like, for instance, the fact that we're pregnant.
What do you think ?
- Doug, Was Target wrong in using analytics
I don't think you could argue what Target reportedly did was illegal in any way.
But they're probably not enjoying the free publicity.
So was it WISE from a business perspective? Probably not.
- Guy, Target is a for profit company
It would be stupid not to use their data to increase profit.
- Deepak, would the survey results change, if it was posted on Digg Do you think the results change / flip if the same survey question is posted on DIGG or other site, instead of a KDNuggets, as mostly data mining/analytics professional visit this site and voting is hence biased.
- Doc Muhlbaier, Target Analysis for Marketing
The only reason for doing the analysis was for marketing. The NYT article was thin on how they did the analysis (probably some variation of clustering), but they were given the data by the individuals through their affinity cards. Those affinity cards provide us benefits (lower costs) at the cost of lesser privacy. There was no evidence that Target violated the agreement from the card.
- Francois, Poll and Pregnancy
Is the right to use consumer information outweighs the right to privacy?? I do not think so.
The next step would be finding people with AIDS, High blood pressure and so on. These could part of your medical history and the question would be:
Knowing that data analytics would give a company clues about your medical profile, should they use it considering that a medical file is private??
Of course pregancy is not a medical condition but it is a highly private experience (at least for the beginning).
I can see you guys coming saying: "It was meant to better serve the customerette" and "the current situation where the dad finds about his daughter pregnancy is an outlier"...
In a society where everything has to be kanban, I guess that there should be no room for a women to think about her pregnancy and receiving ads right away for diapers.
Also, comments on that topic are coming from hard working man using analytics. It would be nice to see the breakdown of gender in that poll. :)
Statistics, predictive analytics can make a nice un-human argument.