Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Media fois gras is coming...

About 2 months ago I went to a ‘Reshaping Media’ conference where there was a discussion about how people’s cell phones are the next BIG advertising platform for agencies/companies. I queried the legality of sending ‘spam’ [otherwise known as unsolicited crap] to people’s phones, noting this was a step 2 far, as a phone is really personal. The ‘expert’ replied - as long as there is an ‘unsubscribe option’ it is not illegal. NOW today I got a multimedia MMS (‘song and dance’) spam message from a company called Mahindra Finanicial Services. This message ‘presentation’ told me about a product I WOULD NEVER buy, showing ugly cars and urged me to visit a dealership. I was given an option to ‘unsubscribe’ at a 50c fee!!!!!

So welcome to the future then…. FORCED MEDIA [media foie gras- yuk]. We will have to pay for rejecting messages that were illegally sent to our phones…. Huh?
I certainly never gave this company the right to send me such a large file and the very, very LAST THING I would ever do is ‘visit a dealership’. A REAL branding faux pax.

I get the same feeling that I think I would get if someone robbed my house. Violated and very angry. So how did they get my number? The cell phone companies would clearly benefit from passing on my details (just add up all the 50c unsubscribe responses they are going to get!). But who knows! Our details are being traded freely for large sums of cash without our permission daily - cant see how that is legal. CHARMING.

The most ironic part of all [and the biggest slap in the face] is one line in the MMS …. “Mahindra subscribes to strict anti-spamming policies. In you do not want to receive any further MMS messages from us, please SMS the words ‘OPTOUT 1658’ to 31234. SMS charged at R0.50.” I rest my case.


Sanchia said...

This is one of my pet peeves! I have gotten to the point where I don't give my cell # out to just anyone and it has been a while since i received spam like that.

The worst time ever with spam was when i had a company phone and i think the person who had the phone before me was very sharing with details. I have had my current phone number for 10 years and i can count the amount of times i have received spam on it (touch wood!)on one hand

The thing that is even worse is the whole "banks-phoning-you-for-credit/product" story. With the whole NCA coming into effect on the 1st of this month i had EVERY bank phoning me for some or other thing. Now, i bank with Standard Bank and funny enough they were the only bunch not phoning me. I get snail mail from Nedbank, Wesbank and ABSA and that with some of these banks, I have never even walked through their doors!

In the end we all take it out on the poor Call-centre people who get the horrible job of harassing us. Most of these call centre people very polite but some are trained on one aspect alone, "how to get the point across in a way that does not alert the customer". They even go to the extent of lying when asked outright about the nature of the call. I know one person (my husband) who tries to find out what the call is about in the first 5 seconds and then when they lie he puts the phone down on the desk and lets them continue with the sale. In the end people will use whatever way possible to get ahead and if that means that they have to annoy us along the way - at least they are meeting their marketing target.....

Angelo said...

I have heard rumors that Google wants to get into the cellphone business as an operator. Their plan is to provide the whole service free of charge. That means phone calls and SMS's will be free all the time.

In return for the free service the subscribers will have to accept SMS or possibly even MMS adverts. Just imagine how quickly your inbox will fill up if for every SMS you send you receive a bunch of adverts.

If that's not invading your privacy enough, Google sends targeted adverts, so not everyone gets the same adverts. What they do is scan the contents of your SMS and look for the topic of conversation. They then send adverts relating to that topic.

Of course this is completely legal because they are already doing that with their free email service, GMail. The reason why it's not illegal for them to scan your messages and extract the topic of conversation is because it is done by a computer program. If it was done by humans it would have been illegal. Interestingly enough this is an argument in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

I use GMail because it provides lots and lots of Inbox space, it's accessible from anywhere and it's free. The adverts I get are not really that noticeable anyway so it's not a big issue.

On a mobile phone however it is very different...

Candice said...