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Contextual Spam

August 15, 2007

Wherever you go, your eyes are scanned and you are identified by your retina print.  Electronic billboards along your route automatically update as you approach to display products determined to be of specific interest to you, by some artificial intelligence.

This was the image of advertising in the future, as depicted in the movie “Minority report“.   That scene in the film appears more plausible every day. 

Today, we have already grown to accept and expect the targeted advertising and promotion efforts by our local grocery stores, that come to us based on the knowledge of what we buy,  gathered everytime our little plastic tags hanging on our keychains are scanned at checkout.   We expect it of the online retailers we do business with as well.  After all, they know who we are, and exactly what we bought, and if they are good, they know what else we looked at on their site.

If you have email, you are already well familiar with various solicitations, ranging from promotions from legitimate companies, to offers for porn, enhancement drugs, or to help some poor Nigerian with his banking troubles.   If you have a blog, despite the best efforts of Akismet, some of the same kinds of things show up in comments.

Usually, they appear as “Hi, nice post.  Check out this site -> http://www.blah.blah-blah”

Recently though,  I’ve begun to receive some contextual spam, and this is where I see us taking a step closer to the future depicted in minority report.   The first occurance was a comment left on a post I made discussing a piece of equipment.   The comment was manual in effort, as the respondent noted some references to one of the pictures in the blog, and then went on to suggest a source for parts, saying that company had good deals and was reputable.  A little follow up on my part showed, the commentor was an employee for that company.  Ok – he would have done better to just be transparent about that.  But, it was still interesting to me, that someone was prospecting customers via their blogs.   Yesterday, I received by second such comment on a post about starting my new workshop, in reference to a comment I made about cutting my phone line.

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This phrasing seems canned, and the approach automated, and suggests to me some search by keyword phrases of blogs in order to apply the spam comment in a contextually relevant manner.  

I’m not sure of how I really feel about this.  It seems like a new opportunity for companies – 70 million blogs, some of them have to be germane.  On the other hand, is this where people want to be directly solicited?  Either way, it demonstrates pattern recognition, and application of content in context.  One step closer to eye scanning billboards….

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2007 12:23 am

    Wow… Worst I’ve seen is canned messages that contain the name of the post back at you in a way that makes little sense.

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