Technology So Clever, It Can Detect Pregnant Teenagers or Homeowners Wanting To Sell

A Target store sent brochures for baby items to their customers, one of which arrived in the hands of a teenage girl. Affronted by the suggestion that his daughter was being 『encouraged’ to consider getting pregnant, an angry man went into a Target store outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to the manager:

「My daughter received this in the mail!」 he said. 「She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her advertising for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?」

The manager was confused. He looked at the brochure, which was addressed to the man’s daughter, and it contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologised, and then called a few days later to apologise again.

However, on the phone the father was somewhat sheepish. 「I had a talk with my daughter,」 he said. 「It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of… she’s due in August… I owe you an apology.」

When looking at a website, who is doing all the watching?

Each time you shop, retailers capture specific details about your purchasing habits. Those details are analysed to determine what you like and need, and which promotion may appeal to you. However, it’s not so much the purchase of baby clothes that may have indicated a pregnancy, it could be a change in perfumes, toiletries or even clothing sizes over a given timeframe.

For example, Target TGT +0.22% has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out if you are expecting a baby ages before the need to purchase nappies.

Are you on track?

The same principal of observing shopping patterns of customers can translate to analysing the website browsing of internet users. In fact, when anyone starts dancing thru the internet, their digital footprint reveals every toe in fine detail.

Digital advertisers have the capacity to build detailed profiles which allow for precise ad-targeting. If you’ve ever visited a business website, and then later on seen ads for that business on other websites you visit, then you have experienced online tracking.

Coming soon to a movie near you

Even in a recent Tom Cruise movie, when being chased into a futuristic shopping centre by gun-toting baddies, sensors on advertising signs detected the IP address on Tom’s phone and started playing advertising images on their large digital screens welcoming Tom’s character while inviting him to review the latest men’s fragrances… albeit a tad difficult when dodging bullets.

The way of tracking you begins with your IP address. Your IP address identifies you on the Internet. It’s also likely that your computer shares an IP address with the other networked devices in your house or even your office. From your IP address, a website you visit can determine your approximate location – not so much your exact street address, more your town or city region.

You can also be tracked from what site you have come from, as well as the next site you visit, including your time limit on each page — thus over time allowing these baby pieces of information to mature into a fully formed avatar: not a movie, rather a term used by advertisers to describe an understood target.

There are also cookies, super cookies, device fingerprinting, and user agents purposed to source as much info as they can about those inquisitive enough to visit a website.

The advantage to real estate agents

These tracking devices are also active in the small computers you carry around in your pocket or purse: your smart phone. In fact, companies that supply information to property agencies can tell what open-for-inspections (OFI) you have visited, that visitor’s frequency and/or increased activity and how long these visitors stayed at each OFI property.

Now, instead of spending hours each day prospecting a 『farm’ area on the phone or even door-knocking, and agent can buy data that identifies the exact people with an interest in transacting real estate. And, with an industry belief that around 20% of people that visit OFIs have an interest in selling, this data is greatly valued.

Add these processes to the upcoming new breed of iPhones and Android devices as well as the new tech wizardry of driverless cars, and it won’t be too long until the average homeowner will be looking sideways at their toaster, wondering what it knows.

Either way, real estate agents need to be constantly aware of the ever-growing suite of tech gadgets becoming available to the property professional. Industry roadshows, such as EAC Insights 2017, offer tremendous updates as to how to take advantage of the latest tech products and outperform those agents that don’t — after all, to ignore all this change and technological breakthrough would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.