Coupon Queen: Marketers use “big data” to target you: What are they learning about us? | Jill-cataldo

Imagine this: A popular family theme park and resort destination sends a poster in the mail. When you unfold it, it’s a calendar showing all of the days your children are off school and available to travel to the resort.

I don’t have to imagine it, as it happened to me. The poster read “Cataldo Family School Breaks,” and each day off aligned to the public school district’s calendar where we live.

Imagine the work these marketers did to create this mailer – they know we are a family with children in the target demographic, and they compared our home address to the school district in which we reside.

Then, they created a custom mailer showing every day our children had off school for the year ahead, encouraging us to hang it in our home and plan future vacations.

As much as I love to travel, even this seemed a little too invasive to me – and this incident took place five years ago. Big Data has even more marketing tricks up their sleeves these days.

Last month, I was looking online at a copper ring in a style that I liked. I ordered the ring from a jewelry site, and after it arrived, my son showed me something interesting. He has a computer tablet that is almost always connected to the Internet via our home’s wireless network.

Even though he had never searched for copper rings, many of the advertisements on the web pages he was browsing were showing copper rings – and some were showing the exact copper ring I’d purchased and the jewelry retailer I purchased it from!

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