When I go out to do a talk about my novels, I generally wear a shirt that reads “I’m the psychotic writer your mother warned you about.” I bought it online a while back because I thought it looked cool.
Actually, the writing was supposed to be faded so it should look like it says “I’m the psycHOTic writer your mother warned you about” to stress the word “Hot” in the shirt. But, as luck would have it, the writing is not faded enough so it just says psychotic.
While wearing a shirt like that may be a bit immature for a man my age, although I’m quite immature for a man my age, it engages the audience anywhere I go. People read my shirt and get a laugh and begin a conversation. And, conversations at a book event usually mean sales because I sell as many books with my talking as I do my writing.
Then there comes a point during the conversation about my shirt when they ask “where did you find it?” That’s when I flip the script.
“I didn’t find it – it found me,” I respond, my retort usually getting some furled brows and questioning looks.
But, my response is on the head. The company which sold me the shirt (yes, corporations are people) literally found me while I was sitting at my house, my nose stuck in the computer. Sounds creepy, huh? Well, it is.
Big brother is watching everything you do online. Every key stroke you make is helping companies build a portfolio on you so they can market you.
In my case, the information they had gathered told them I am an author, therefore they tempt me with things a writer might like to own. You see it all the time when you go online to buy something – “People who bought this product also liked this product.” That isn’t by accident. They know what you like. It’s called geo-targeting. And yes, even I use it.
What happens is that most sites on the internet record where you go and what you’re looking for. That information gets sold to marketing firms who, in turn, get people to pay them to geo-target you with their product. For instance, I can pay a company to target people who read James Patterson novels to have my novels pop up on Kindle when someone looks at one of his books. This puts my name right under their noses. Then, should they click on my ad, I have to pay. It’s called pay-per-click and anyone can do it.
In a highly competitive world where more and more shopping is happening online, geo-targeting a product is a good investment, plus you only pay when they click. How high and often your product is placed depends on how much you pay per click.
It’s fascinating and scary at the same time. Someone knows everything you’re doing online yet that same invasion of privacy (privacy that you voluntarily give up when you agree to terms of service) gives you the potential to enter every living room in the world through a computer screen.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191