Is Anything Private Anymore?


While researching privacy for a class discussion, I came across something I found very disturbing. The exact words that caught my eye were, “The recent incident of Target using customer analytics to determine that a teen was pregnant before her father knew.” [Click here to read this full article]

Excuse me?

My first thought was, “ok, this is a joke or an example of something that COULD happen.”

Nope. It really happened.

Apparently, Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. Using that, the company looks at historical buying data for all the ladies who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past.

Fine, right? I knew that many companies tracked consumer purchases, activities and interests, but tracking pregnancy?

According to a Forbes article, Target started sending coupons for baby items to customers according to their pregnancy scores. The particular article I found this on shared a particular incident (the one I referred to above) — so good that it sounds made up — that conveys how eerily accurate the targeting is.

One day, an angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager:

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

Creepy, right? I literally read and re-read this about five times and then just said, “Whoa!”

Shortly after this incident, (and likely, others very similar to this) Target got sneakier about sending the coupons. The company can create personalized booklets; instead of sending people with high pregnancy scores books o’ coupons solely for diapers, rattles, strollers, and the “Go the F*** to Sleep” book (hahaha), they more subtly spread them about:

“Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.

“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”

I mean, come on, even the most skilled Facebook stalker could not be this diligent and clever about the information collected from their subject.

Target is not the only company using these tactics but it is the only one with this strange of a story (my opinion, feel free to Google your own!).

How does reading this make you feel? What if YOU were the one getting the news about a major life changing event from a store?

Best Wishes,





The New Way to Shop Black Friday


Black Friday – The day after the Thanksgiving holiday that marks the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season.This is the day when people all over the country wake up at ridiculous hours (if they even manage to sleep at all) to stand in line at various stores to get the best deals on merchandise.

Why is this Friday “black” you ask? Well a number of reasons are given. The main one is that this is said to be the first day of the year that many companies turn a profit, moving them out of the “red” and into the “black.” I call it Black Friday because one year, I got a black eye in a Victoria’s Secret when I was bent down and someone opened a drawer which slammed into my eye, but the rest of the world isn’t aware of this particular story … until now!

Clearly from my comment above, you can assume I am one of those crazy people standing in line somewhere at 3:00 AM to get  some voucher for a gift that no one I know REALLY needs or wants but I want the option to give it to someone. I am guilty as charged.

Until this year, I was standing in line somewhere at 3:00 AM, if not before. My mom and I were crazy Black Friday shoppers. This year, due to personal issues, we were not able to enjoy the headaches of the lines and other crazy people. We did, however, partake in some amazing steals and deals outside the actual stores.

A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 percent of last year. The average holiday shopper spent $423 over the entire weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending over the four-day weekend totaled $59.1 billion, up 12.8 percent from 2011 (TIME).

Online sales rose 26 percent to $1.04 billion on Black Friday compared with a year ago. On Thanksgiving, online sales rose 32 percent from last year to $633 million. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 percent from the same day last year to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion (TIME).

I was one of those online shoppers. Not only did I purchase online but I purchased from my phone. According to IBM, Mobile purchases soared with 24 percent of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Mobile sales exceeded 16 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011.

Today, being “Cyber Monday”, online sales are expected to rise even more. According to a recent survey by BIGinsight and the National Retail Federation’s, 85 percent of online retailers will offer special Cyber Monday promotions, while 44.1 percent plan to offer free shipping without conditions.

Why does Cyber Monday even exist with all the in-store and online deals already beginning on Thanksgiving Day? Come the  Monday after the holiday weekend, many Americans will roll into their offices, fire up their computers, open their e-mails and proceed to shop. About $2 billion worth of shopping just on that day, about 3% of the projected two-month holiday online sales haul (USA TODAY).

While everything about the Thanksgiving weekend shopping makes me smile with glee, I have to admit that I was quite pleased to be able to make purchases without having to visit the stores. I still got a ton of great deals and was able to be with the people I needed to be with most during that time.

Did you venture out into the craziness on Black Friday or even on Thanksgiving evening? Or did you shop online? Wait until Cyber Monday to get great deals? Or are you planning on procrastinating until all this Black Friday, Cyber Monday insanity dies down? I’d love to hear some stories!!

Best Wishes,

Social media is for the dogs … and cats!


As I was watching Good Morning America this morning, as I always do, they had a ton of coverage about Hurricane Sandy. One of the topics they covered was about pets! Of course in many disasters like Sandy, people are worried about getting out of their homes and pets are either forgotten or get out of the home. This was very common during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many pets lost in Katrina were never reunited with their families. To me, this is heart breaking. I am an animal lover and to see pets cold and hungry just devastating!

This time around, people are taking a very different approach with lost and found pets. People have taken to social media to try to reunite pets with owners. A Facebook page called “Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets” has over 10,000 supporters, a number that is growing by the hour. The page has dozens of photos of pets that have been lost and found. Others are using Craigslist and the hashtag #SandyPets on Twitter.

People interacting with the Facebook page are offering to foster pets if needed, help look for lost pets and post their photos and information as well as post photos and information of pets that have been lost. This is just one way that people are using social media in a positive way. It amazes people that even in such a devastating time, people are so willing to help others and use social media to do so.

– Sam

Media Before Noon


Here’s an example of my typical morning:

6:30 – Wake-up

6:35 – Check Twitter and Groupon

6:45 – Have coffee, watch news, check Facebook  and check breaking news on my iPhone

7:00 – 7:30 – Get ready while watching Good Morning America

7:30 – 8:00 – Drive to work while listening to Bob & Tom on the radio

8:00 – 8:15 – Check Twitter and Facebook (again)

8:15 – 12:00 – Do work while watching TV, checking Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Now, the reason behind giving you my morning schedule isn’t because I am looking for a stalker, but because I use four different types of media each day before lunch. I use traditional media like TV and radio as well as more non-traditional like social media websites and mobile applications.

Emerging media is important because it tells us where we are going and how far we have come. We don’t realize it until it is already developed but current types of media dictate the future! It also impacts and shapes every aspect of our lives. Emerging media is how we communicate and engage with others.


The image above from from a blog called Logic + Emotion, describes the relationship between people and social media. These are the most popular types of social media but there are many more options out there for people. The basic idea is that we are centered in the middle of so many types of social media and sometimes it can be overwhelming.

The image below, from Compassion in Politics: Christian Social Entrepreneurship, Education Innovation, & Base of the Pyramid/BOP Solutions describes in more detail, the different types of emerging media people are exposed to.

As you can see, emerging media is very important as well as ever changing. How many different types of media do you use everyday? You can only think until noon, like I did, if it’s easier!!

Until next time,

– Sam