I recently came across a twitter trend called #Youaretheproduct. As I am curious of everything that has to do with products and marketing, I clicked it and ended up on quite a few interesting articles. What these articles were stating was quite simple: You are the product. You? Do I mean: you? Yes, you, reading this just now, you are a product.
You might think that this is nonsense, and you would be right…as long as you are not registered on any social network, using any search engine or other Google product, if you have disabled all the cookies on your Internet browser and have unsubscribed from all networks’ ad servers through a very strenuous process. Basically, if you are my great- grandma!
As I still come across people that do not believe or understand what I mean by this, let me explain why, you are indeed a product, with a very simple example: Facebook.
When you registered on Facebook, you saw on you screen: “Facebook is free and always will be”. You probably though it was very cool and quite normal, in the end. Why would you have to pay to be on such a simple and quite meaningless website? Well you DO pay. Your private information is the currency. Every single information that you provide when filling in your profile info, uploading photos, tagging people or places, or just by surfing the web, is gathered and used to serve ads to your computer screen. Ads that are supposed to be highly relevant and targeted to your wants and needs. Really? Well, think about it. How would a company valued at over $100 billion, with over 900 million users and 3500 employees have a business model that does not generate money? The way Facebook makes money is by selling all the information they have about you to those willing to pay for that information: advertisers. Believe me, I worked in this fascinating industry for a little while.
Would you pay to be on Facebook or use Google Search? How do you feel knowing that all the information you put online, even on professional sites like LinkedIn or simply entering a search in Google, is stored, mined, used and sold? Is that the normal price to pay in today’s information society?
The Internet is scary because it has pushed the boundaries further and is more sophisticated than most other marketing programs, but just being part of any store’s loyalty programs make you a product, they have not reinvented the wheel.
Is there a way to escape the market logic? As consumers, are we increasingly gaining or losing power? That’s the question!