Will “Smarter” Marketing End Social Discrimination? A Critical Review
– There are two claims made by the web marketing/advertising industry. By collecting, managing, and mining data, companies serve consumer's best interests, and by adopting sophisticated analytics, web marketers avoid discriminations that disserve individuals. Although the paper shares an interest in ending social discrimination, the paper is more circumspect about pronounced individualism and technological fixes. Despite its appeal, or perhaps because of it, the paper should not accept the claim at face value. The paper argues that social discrimination may not disappear under smarter marketing; more overt forms may wane only to be replaced by more subtle forms. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
– The paper compares the two most important techniques of “smarter” marketing – predictive analytics and Facebook's social graph – with current discriminatory practices of weblining and e-scoring. While noting advances against overt discrimination, the paper describes how smarter marketing allows for covert forms.
– Innovative strategies to record and mine users' tastes and social connectivity for marketing purposes open the way for covert social discrimination.
Originality/value – The paper provides a critical assessment of two claims made by the web marketing/advertising industry: by monitoring consumer web activity and collecting, managing, and mining data, companies serve consumer's best interests, and by adopting sophisticated analytics, web marketers avoid discriminations that disserve individuals.