Virtual Boundaries – Recap

A small but perfectly formed group met to discuss the social consequences of contemporary marketing techniques driven by data and digital technologies.

First up, I introduced the challenges of social networking to the traditional ways that regulators deal with advertising. Using the example of a recent GiffGaff campaign, I argued that we are seeing a new understanding of self regulation in which the audience is responsible for regulating the ads they see. A full paper on this will be added to my page asap.  My colleague Andrew Smith reviewed his research on data mining techniques.  Using one case from a customer data base he showed us the level of detail we can learn about people by tracking their purchasing habits.  It was shocking to see how much you can learn!

Following this, Janice Denegri Knott and Rebecca Watkins presented their research into the ways that digital goods challenge our concept of ownership. They introduced their talk with a case in which users of a popular e-book service woke up to find that they could no longer read their digital copy of George Orwell’s 1984. It turned out they had paid for access not ownership and the provider maintained the right to remove access if they deemed it necessary. For Janice and Rebecca this is like a book retailer coming into your house and taking your books back.

After a hearty lunch, Ellen Helsper presented her on-going research into digital inclusion. She presented some startling facts. The number of people who have never been online in the UK is scary. Unsurprisingly, it tends to be those lower down the social hierarchy who miss out.  

Finally, Agnes Nairn presented our keynote lecture. She focused on advergames.  Agnes illustrated how these get round the usual cues that children have been found to use to distinguish adverts from non-adverts.  This, she argued, means they undermine current regulations which demand all adverts are immediately recognizable as adverts.




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