An unusual feeling struck me upon entering one of the biggest shopping centers in Slovenia. Something was different than before, but it was hard to explain what exactly.
While shopping, I carefully observed the surroundings and soon found a novelty - tiny red notices on the walls. On the ceiling, I see cameras that are completely different from anything seen before.
I am faced with an unpleasant fact - even if I leave the center by the nearest route, I use their premises. So I allow the use of some cookies in accordance with some kind of policy.
What is this policy?
I went to the information desk and ask if they can explain this policy to me. The young lady, who was kind of cute, smiles and answers casually:
"Nothing special sir, don't worry. We're just monitoring the behavior of our users a little more closely to better understand your needs."
"And how do you monitor our behavior?" I ask ignorantly.
"We have new GoogleTagCam cameras installed around the store that record various visitors data."
"Interesting, what data?"
"Basically nothing special, just the number of visitors, how long you've been in the center, how long you stay in individual stores or by specific shelves. This makes it easier for us to know what you're interested in and adjust the offer accordingly."
"Sounds really simple. Why do you even need some kind of policy on this? Isn't it clear from our purchases what we're interested in?"
"Well, you know, each one of you has different interests."
"Hmm ... that's probably true. But then how do you know who is interested in what?"
"GoogleTagCam helps us collect some additional data very cheaply with the advanced learning algorithm. Your height, approximate age and weight, clothing and brand preferences, fatigue level, sexual preferences and similar details revealed by your appearance, facial muscle movement and body language."
"Just like that? There used to be interviewers at the center who asked us if we were willing to answer a few questions. The ones about gender and age were optional."
"I know, sir, but ... our marketing team needs this data to improve your user experience. See that purple stand with FC Maribor products?"
She points to a stand from which I have been buying an energy drink for a few weeks now.
"They put it there when they noticed that a lot of visitors were wearing clothes with the coat of arms of our football club."
The girl looks at me kindly and only then I notice a small famous coat of arms of the best Slovenian club on the sleeve of her T-shirt. At this point, the policy becomes clear to me. I notice the last name of a famous football player on her badge. His daughter probably.
"But in any bar in Maribor these marketers would be told that you have to have a purple stand. They would just have to pay for a round of drinks for that information. Probably a round of drinks would be cheaper than these GoogleTagCam."
"That is probably true, but our marketing team is from Ljubljana and they rarely come to Maribor. In addition, they take care of the analysis of all shopping centers at the same time."
"Wouldn't it be cheaper if the manager observed and decided on this?"
"Maybe, but it wouldn't be legal, as the manager of the center isn't authorized to observe consumer behavior."
The young lady was really nice and I decided to interrupt this political conversation. I pick up my cell phone and took a photo of her.
"Sir, did you just take a picture of me? You can't do that."
I've turned around so she could read the inscription on the back of my T-shirt, "By further conversation, you allow the use of photos in accordance with my policy on the use of photos.". I've smiled kindly and concluded:
"Nothing special miss, you don't have to worry."
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