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How One Woman Hid Her Pregnancy From Big Data

Posted on April 30th, 2014 at 18:20 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself -- Write a comment


For the past nine months, Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, tried to hide from the Internet the fact that she’s pregnant — and it wasn’t easy.

Pregnant women are incredibly valuable to marketers. For example, if a woman decides between Huggies and Pampers diapers, that’s a valuable, long-term decision that establishes a consumption pattern. According to Vertesi, the average person’s marketing data is worth 10 cents; a pregnant woman’s data skyrockets to $1.50. And once targeted advertising finds a pregnant woman, it won’t let up.


Vertesi said that by dodging advertising and traditional forms of consumerism, her activity raised a lot of red flags. When her husband tried to buy $500 worth of Amazon gift cards with cash in order to get a stroller, a notice at the Rite Aid counter said the company had a legal obligation to report excessive transactions to the authorities.

“Those kinds of activities, when you take them in the aggregate … are exactly the kinds of things that tag you as likely engaging in criminal activity, as opposed to just having a baby,” she said.

  1. Walk into a store and buy a stroller. Won’t cost $500.

  2. Didn’t bother reading the article, but my impression is that gift cards are commonly used to pay for illegal/illicit stuff. Just like Tide. And in the U.S., “nobody” buys $500 worth of gift cards with cash. (i.e. it probably happens less frequently in a legit way than it does in a way related to crime.)

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