This should give you the creeps.
A company called The Spinner has launched a service that allows for native ad micro-targeting. And no-one is happy about it; the service is, to put it mildly, questionable; a form of “inception marketing”.
The Spinner does this for the customer:
As expected, the company is getting media attention due to its highly questionable nature. The Forbes calls it online manipulation and ABC calls it brainwashing. The media focus is on men tricking women into having sexual relationships (or settle out of court) — a “Cambridge Analytica” of sex.
Well, I’m not sure that individual targeting will stop at sexual innuendoes.
A dark form of ‘inception marketing’
Many have seen Inception, Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. A team of agents are breaking into sleeping people’s heads to plant ideas within their dreams. The result? The victims wake up thinking that those new ideas are actually theirs.
While The Spinner is a scandalous concept, purposely marketing themselves to stir up conflict, the “technology” is far from advanced; cookie-based programmatic targeting is already in widespread mainstream use. The twist here is to bombard a single individual (rather than a larger group of people) with stealthy messages. And, it could work. Popular mentalists like Derren Brown have repeatedly shown that suggestive techniques can have effects — making targets believe that planted ideas are their own.
The Spinner web service is likely to be written off as an unethical concept, and rightly so, but it’s safe to assume that this might the starting point of a growing number of solutions for individual “pre-suasion”1. Traditional advertising has historically been abundantly clear about what products or services are being advertised, but maybe now we’ll begin to see trials in suggestive targeting based on individual psychologies?
Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash.
- For more on pre-suasion, check out Robert Cialdini’s latest book or my blog post, How to Persuade Anyone of Anything.