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The NY Times has an article today about Comcast's program to monitor comments made about the company or its service online. The stated intent is to monitor public complaints and speed resolution. Others believe the giant company is spying on its customers.

 

He assumed he was writing for his own benefit. “It feels like nobody ever really reads my blog,” he said. “Nobody has left a comment in months.”

 

Shortly afterward, he received an e-mail message from Comcast, thanking him for the feedback and adding that it was working on a new interactive guide that might “illuminate the issues that you are currently experiencing.”

 

Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy. “The rest of his e-mail may as well have read, ‘Big Brother is watching you,’ ” he said.

 

 

Big Brother? or helping hand?

 

But Comcast is going an extra step by talking back, contacting customers who are discussing the company online.

 

Odds are they are complaining about Comcast. The company was ranked at the very bottom of the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index, which tracks consumer opinions of more than 200 companies. Hundreds of customers have filed grievances on a site called ComcastMustDie.com.

 

Comcast says the online outreach is part of a larger effort to revamp its customer service. In just about five months, Mr. Eliason, whose job redefines customer service, has reached out to well over 1,000 customers online.

 

Lyza Gardner, a vice president at a Web development company in Portland, Ore., used Twitter to vent about a $183 cable bill last month. (The bill was prorated for almost two months of service.) Her comment — “very angry at Comcast” — set off Mr. Eliason’s search tool, prompting him to type out his typical reply: “Can I help?” The response caught Ms. Gardner off guard.

 

“It’s one thing to spit vitriol about a company when they can’t hear you,” she said in an interview. It’s another, she said, when the company replies. “I immediately backed down and softened my tone when I knew I was talking to a real person.”

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OMG! Do you mean people/companies might actually read what is posted in public fora online? And moreover, might want to address issues raised online?

 

These people are morons.

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Seriously. In 100% agreement with JPW. We complain when companies don't respond to complaints and we apparently complain when they do. The internet is PUBLIC, and it's public on a scale the likes of which we have never seen before. Why can't people understand that?

 

Now if people were getting responses after they emailed their friends with complaints, that would be creepy. This? Good business practice.

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I just transcribed some speeches from a conference that was all about how cellphones are all basically going to be pocket PCs in the next handful of years and a lot of talk focused on just how people are going to be marketed to. The advertisers hope to look at your location, your music, your profile, your social networking (for example, the Facebook app on your phone) et cetera, to target market you. This is considered to be a huge and largely untapped money-making opportunity (already happening to some extent in Asian countries, not much at all in the US). A couple of possible examples given: We know you're in San Francisco, we know it's 50 and chilly, now a "take United to Maui" ad is going to pop up on your phone. Or we know your location and you're only 1.2 miles from so-and-so dealership, come take a test drive.

 

Chilling, yes, but it's what's going to happen. Of course Comcast is searching for and responding to wherever and whenever they're mentioned. They have bots from companies like MarkMonitor looking for mentions of their company everywhere.

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I just transcribed some speeches from a conference that was all about how cellphones are all basically going to be pocket PCs in the next handful of years and a lot of talk focused on just how people are going to be marketed to. The advertisers hope to look at your location, your music, your profile, your social networking (for example, the Facebook app on your phone) et cetera, to target market you. This is considered to be a huge and largely untapped money-making opportunity (already happening to some extent in Asian countries, not much at all in the US). A couple of possible examples given: We know where you're in San Francisco, we know it's 50 and chilly, now a "take United to Maui" ad is going to pop up on your phone. Or we know your location and you're only 1.2 miles from so-and-so dealership, come take a test drive.

Maybe 40 years ago, Philip K. Dick envisioned such a world in some of his stories & novels, except the advertisers were able to broadcast their messages straight into your skull.

 

The science may have been a bit dicey, but he saw what was coming.

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We know where you're in San Francisco, we know it's 50 and chilly, now a "take United to Maui" ad is going to pop up on your phone.

 

That's not that much better than posting that ad in the nyc subway in February, is it? If they keep spamming you with GPS-ified ads, you'll just become better at filtering them out.

 

The level of sophistication of good adaptive advertising is much higher than that. It has to tap into things that you are already very likely to want and make it easy for you to purchase them.

 

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We know where you're in San Francisco, we know it's 50 and chilly, now a "take United to Maui" ad is going to pop up on your phone.

 

That's not that much better than posting that ad in the nyc subway in February, is it? If they keep spamming you with GPS-ified ads, you'll just become better at filtering them out.

 

Except that with cellphone ads, they can instantly see what percentage of people click on their ads and if the ad isn't working, they very quickly send you something else. If you're near a Pizza Hut, say, a Pizza Hut coupon might flash up on your idle screen. Some case studies show some of this type of advertising to be very effective. Remember that a lot of this response to ads will be by teenagers.

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