Google’s not-so-secret heat seeking weapon

There has been an interesting development in the world of advertising this week as Google has been granted a new patent. The new patented technology allows for more targeted smartphone advertisement based on weather conditions and background noise detected by the device.

Targeted advertising is nothing new, but the methods available to advertisers are becoming much more specific. Facebook advertising allows you to target specific demographics based around a number of options. For example a wedding dress maker could target specifically female users whose marital status is ‘engaged’ within a specific radius of their shop.

This not only benefits the advertiser, but us as consumers. Adverts we see are more likely to appeal to us. As a single man I would have no use for a wedding dress and such an advert on my Facebook feed would just be seen as an inconvenience. However, with Facebook’s system I am more likely to receive cool gadgets, Star Wars merchandise, and general geeky items based on the pages I ‘like’. Although I rarely if ever click on the ads that I see, some of them do catch my attention in a good way.

This new technology by Google is an extension of what Facebook has already started. For example users will be more interested in ice lollies or a cold refreshing beer on a hot day than in the middle of winter and likewise products like Cup-a-soup will be better targeted at users in the cold. These are just basic ideas but no doubt advertisers will have already started thinking up clever and intriguing ways to harness this technology when it becomes widely available.

The concern comes in the amount of information advertisers have readily available. It could be argued that when you share your personal information on a social media site such as Facebook that it’s free game, but many users don’t see it that way. This new technology takes it one step further, picking up on noise and weather conditions means that they’re taking an active step in finding out your situation, rather than simply working with what you’ve presented. No doubt the technology will incorporate an opt out system but how deep will that be buried?

Is this another step to the ‘big brother’ level of control we’ve been brought up to fear? In ten years will we be presented with adverts based on words muttered in the comfort of our own home? Already we get ads on Facebook based on the status update we’ve just posted, or the photo we’re looking at. Will our passing conversations be secretly recorded by our devices, sent over wi-fi and stored on a government database? Honestly? Probably not, but the technology that would allow such things already surrounds us in our everyday life.

Where do you stand? Do you think that this environmentally targeted advertising will work better for us as consumers, ensuring we are more likely to get adverts that are of benefit to us? Or is this level of targeting something we should be wary of? We’re interested to hear your thoughts – leave us a comment below.