July 24, 2009 Hey, kids, did you know the mouse house thinks it’s okay to mine your personal information and sell it to advertisers to make a buck off your back without your permission?
Reuters reports Disney CEO Robert Iger is bullish on direct web marketing to consumers, and seems to think tracking kids’ preferences and selling your likes and dislikes with every keystroke is a-ok fine…After all, “older consumers” are the ones that hate ad spam and digital clutter, not you guys. ‘Zat right? Really?
“Kids don’t care,” Iger said, adding that when he talked to his adult children about their online privacy concerns “they can’t figure out what I’m talking about.” Ahem. I’d start with “a.) I highly doubt that…and b.) Would that make it okay?
Just how old are these children? What constitutes ‘kids?’ Should children’s rights as tweens and teens be usurped by profiteers just because they ‘can?’ Gee, and we wonder why there’s such a big fuss at the policy and protections level of kids privacy and data mining. Enough to literally “make a federal case out of it.”
Perhaps he meant something along the lines of “kids don’t appear as concerned as adults about privacy” or even “kids tune out ad spam and are desensitized to annoying ploys”…but that’s not remotely close to his stance.
Mr. Iger just set back his industry pals luring kids with ‘sweet deals’ and marketing opportunities into ‘Gooey Gumdrops Land’ or ‘Molasses Swamp’ in the Candyland board game of life…(visual credit to Clevver.com who reminds a Candyland movie is in the works)
Soooo……maybe that’s ultimately the best solution in itself? Let industry sink in its own candy-coated quagmire of “spin” and colorful interpretations while youth advocates rest from pounding against the digital wall to broker reasonable middle ground. At least then we wouldn’t be subjected to belittling, sour-note headlines like this one, “FCC to Study Media & Kids to Aid ‘Scared Parents.’
I am not a ‘scared parent.’ I am a ticked off parent.
Big diff on the need for reform, Bloomberg at al…
In fact, this has nothing to do with fear of the big bad media wolf, (says the media maven mama) and EVERYthing to with kids’ rights as consumers and clear lines of FCC demarcation when it comes to boundaries, product placement and even creative context.
The only thing I’m ‘afraid of’ is the civility of discourse devolving into a ‘them vs. us’ fist-to-cuffs which sets up divisiveness over solutions-based, common sense thinking.
I mean, really, Mr. Iger…Have you talked to kids other than your own about privacy and permissions?
Last I checked with industry research AND youth attending conferences like the recent Ypulse National Mashup, teens DID want to control their own consumer information rather than be commodified.
In fact, looking at my notes, they echo Ypulse live-blogger Derek Baird’s recap here which sums:
“A Harris Interactive poll found that 59% of youth are willing to provide personal info to get targeted information in return, but be aware that teens have high expectations for privacy controls, user experience, want to be in full control of their info.”
ESPECIALLY when it comes to mobile…Specifically, 6 out 0f 10 teens would be willing to provide info only if they controlled the terms…(that’s a lower willingness to provide profile info than adults!)
This Harris Interactive 30pp TeenMobile Study research report shows ONLY 5% would agree to provide profile info without a return on their ‘investment’ or some entitlement/incentive… Plus 9% are NOT AT ALL interested whatsoever!
Bill Carter of Fuse shared this 25pp teen study at Ypulse saying “only 10% of teens approve of in-game ads” (and they don’t buy into the whole ‘it makes it more authentic’ bit)…
AND…phones were dead last in ‘acceptability’ of ad messaging! (90% of teens text, and 90% disapprove of advertisers texting them)
What can we surmise from this?
Clearly nothing close to Mr. Iger’s words.
Teens DO want their privacy from marketers. Moreover…
Teens want control and choice over their own personal data (don’t we ALL?)
And IF teens decide they want to receive some ‘sweet deal,’ or FREEBIE, they want to ‘opt-in’ with their favorite brands rather than be served an empty digital diet of ads as junk food…
Kids are well aware of their increasingly commodified childhood and essentially are creating their own ‘quid pro quo’ data deal as if to brazenly say to corporations,
‘Fine, you can have it, but it’s gonna cost you’…
If you detect a bit of glee in my ‘rage against the machine’ stance, you’re not mistaken; I’m against mining data sans permissions at ANY age and find it objectionable that business seems to feel it’s their inalienable right to stalk-n-hawk kids’ preferences like predatory lechers…
I also think the price we pay to mine kids’ childhoods will ultimately cost us all. (my mantra, actually)
Disney’s Iger is salivating at the multiple ways to monetize content in the digital sphere,“There is a significant amount of headroom in being able to charge for something on the Internet,” he said.
Reuters reported Disney estimates that people pay $5 PER HOUR to see a movie in theater, 75 cents to read a book or magazine, 50 cents per hour for cable and 25 cents per hour for Internet content…so there’s huge ‘opportunity’ as they say in the business.
But let’s review the whole premise for a sec…
If kids’ data has been bought and sold without their approval, and now they’re being asked to subscribe to Disney content for a fee, aren’t they paying for it twice?
Once with the sale of their personal privacy (both literally and figuratively) to a plethora of third party vendors and now again to the company they want to actually purchase something from? That doesn’t wash. Plus parents get hammered on both sides of that equation…as I wrote on the CBS four-part series awhile back called The Hard Sell to Kids…
That’s only one of the many privacy, data, and consumption cue bugaboos that have those inside and outside of the industry irked. (Of course, there are many nuances and degrees of irked…)
Where do YOU stand, readers?
Others feel COPPA’s ‘under 13’ rules are appropo for serving permissions-based content…
Some youth themselves want to decide what they do and don’t want to receive from brands and others want everything ‘free’ on the internet but can’t explain how it will be paid for…And many advocate media literacy as the answer…(lifelong learner Michele Martin rightfully opines that today’s online adults could use a dose of media literacy and critical thinking skills even more than kids!)
And, alas, some marketers treat kids as “mini-adults” due to sophisticated age compression, with little if any need for protection whatsoever. Will Disney parents backlash in this kids’ privacy conversation?
Back to Disney’s Robert Iger for a hot digital minute…
Kara Swisher of D: All Things Digital, (at left) live-blogged Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena quoting even more data nuggets of Robert Iger’s keynote that are worthy of considering in this arena (privacy/digital dollars/youth and more…)
Here’s an excerpt from Kara’s piece:
“This is the beginning of the beginning,” said Iger, who noted that it would be folly to guess what’s coming next in the digital arena.
A most excellent point that he made several times, adding that it was important for companies like Disney to keep trying out all sorts of things digitally, until they got it right.
“This notion of protecting the present is something that I talk a lot about [with employees],” said Iger, who wants them not to do that so much.
He noted that running a modern media company meant you had to have “one hand in the present and one hand in the future.”
Iger forgot about the hand that you might need to protect yourself from partners of the present–like big-box retailers, television affiliates, cable networks–who are going to come at you with a cudgel for giving the stuff you sell them away free on, say, Hulu.
Hulu, of course, is the popular, tiny-money-making premium online video service, which is a joint partnership of News Corp. (NWS), GE’s (GE) NBC Universal and now Disney.
“We believe in Hulu,” said Iger, who thinks its business model–currently just online advertising–might evolve over time.
But, he added, he was “somewhat skeptical” of any one answer to what is ahead. As in: Iger just does not know, which is probably the best thing a media mogul can say right now.”
Kara’s piece concludes with a ‘that was then, this is now’ feeling of where things are going in the digital Disney realm, and points to Iger’s determination to follow the yellow brick road of consumer preference into the online arena…Hulu, YouTube, the Totlol.com for wee ones, etc.
But that’s when Disney’s present day doings gets downright laughable, with the ultimate ‘new media-old media’ ironies coming into play between YouTube, Disney and copyright wars…
Disney wants to profit from online content, and as always, gain traction if not dominate the digital sphere…Yet…
They clamped down on the premature ‘leakage’ of the new Disney/Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland trailer slated to premiere at Comic Con yesterday.
It bounced around the blogosphere on YouTube, IGN.com, MSN.com and beyond (the movie premieres 3-5-10 with Johnny Depp in the lead role) and what did Disney do?
Promptly delete it for copyright reasons!
Way to have “one hand in the past!” (forget about the present and the future, ‘cmon now, Disney, you’re outta hands)
But then…I guess perhaps the trailer is something Disney prefers to keep private for now.
If only consumers were granted the same clout, capability, and control of our OWN privacy preferences and digital destinies.
Talk about building a better mousetrap.
Related Coverage of Disney/Iger: