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Is Your Conversations Being Monitored by Companies for Targeted Advertising?

One company can apparently turn your worst nightmare into reality: using the microphone in your smartphone, smart TV, or other devices to listen to your day-to-day conversations.

404 Media reports that Cox Media Group (CMG) is pitching a product called Active Listening to customers that can serve ads based on the conversations people are having within the confines of their four walls such as “A mini van would be perfect for us,” or “Do I see mold on the ceiling?”

Apparently, CMG can listen in on conversations through the microphones in smart devices and use them to identify potential customers for various products and services.

It’s not clear if CMG is already using the tech to eavesdrop on us but most people would be inclined to believe that, given the number of times an ad about a product or service we talk about pops up on the internet.

Ethical considerations aside, such a product would help companies identify the exact people who might be interested in their products and eliminate the guesswork involved with the traditional methods of market segmentation.

It’s not known if CMG’s tech actually works and whether it’s already being used. The company is reportedly already scouting for clients on LinkedIn and claims that the return on investment is impressive, which means businesses are already using the tech.

Active Listening’s users can select a territory where they want to use the service, with coverage extending up to 10 or 20 miles. The service uses AI to detect conversations of interest via smartphones, smart TVs, and other smart devices.

CGM also installs a tracking pixel on the website of clients to monitor the return on investment (ROI). The ads will be delivered through display ads, Google and Bing search, YouTube, and streaming services.
The goal is to reach exactly those customers who want a particular product and deliver personalized ads that make them think of the product provider as a mind reader… CMG’s website even says that it’s legal for a business to listen to people’s conversations.

iPhone users can rest assured that CGM has no access to their conversations as whenever the microphone is in use, an orange indicator lights up.

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