Targeted advertisements based on the weather

Targeted advertisements using weather sensors

Weather based targeted advertisements

Google has filed a patent for a system which displays adverts based on current weather conditions. The system would likely be aimed at mobile devices using publicly available weather data and forecasts to select targeted advertisements. Examples cited include advertisements for umbrellas when rain storms threaten. Other examples would presumably include sunscreen, hats, and perhaps even cold drinks or ice cream during heat waves. Perhaps targeted advertisements for warm clothing or snow chains could be displayed during a cold snap.

It has also been suggested that the patent could open the door for additional sensors in mobile phones. Most modern phones already include GPS and compass systems, but the addition of temperature, humidity, and even air quality sensors could pave the way for adverts touting air conditioners to those in hot, humid climates and different items of clothing depending on the temperature.

Naturally privacy advocates have something to say about this. The BBC quote a Privacy International executive who believes “This is an attempt to turn our devices into personal spying devices, just so a company can try to sell you a coat on a cold day.

ITGS lesson ideas

Umbrella in rainGoogle currently makes 96% of its $2.17 billion revenue from targeted advertisements. It therefore seems reasonable to think that any avenue to increase the relevance of their adverts is one they are likely to pursue. A good lesson activity could involve students playing the role of Google and investigating new ways to target advertisements. As a starter students could investigate the type of data which can be gathered by the sensors in their mobile phones. This links in well with Strand 3 of the ITGS syllabus. Applications for this data could then be discussed. In a similar manner to the Search Engines and Privacy lesson, students would need to link separate items of data and draw inferences from them. This relates to Strand 2 of the syllabus.

During their discussions students may well generate ideas which others find objectionable. For example, increasing the price of ice cream on a hot day. These somewhat controversial ideas should lead them into the final stage. Students would need to evaluate the social and ethical impacts of using data in this way. Their final ideas could be presented verbally (perhaps as a debate), as a formal presentation, or even as a set of policies that should be followed.

Source: BBC article

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