- Smart data analysis can help lead innovation
- But monetising personal data is difficult terrain to navigate
Your smartphone is a tiny, starving monster that feeds off the data that you pour into it, and sucks at your soul until you turn into a brainless zombie. Or so goes the argument of The Social Dilemma, one of Netflix’s (US:NFLX) hits of 2020. The documentary, which attracted 38m viewers within four weeks of its release, shone a deeply unflattering spotlight on the ways that the gods of Silicon Valley harvest and commodify our personal information.
While the film is an entertaining watch, and makes salient points about the impact of social media on mental health, the documentary does not reveal anything new about the nature of advertisers. The likes of Facebook (US:FB) and Google parent Alphabet (US:GOOGL) are pioneers in cutting-edge technology – but they both make most of their revenues from ad sales. And like advertisers before them, they work to make sure that they engage their audiences. The industry has always tried to collate the most relevant information they have about their viewer or readership and try to use it to sell products en masse.