It’s an open secret that there are a ton of companies jockeying behind the scenes to collect as much of your personal data as possible so it can then sell ads that target you.
But most of those companies aren’t quite as honest about it as Verizon.
The telecom giant has a new plan to get your data, and it’s admirably straightforward — Let Verizon track you on the web, in apps, and even where you are in the real world, and Verizon will give you everything from concert tickets to phone upgrades in return.
The program is called Verizon Up, and it will replace its old program, Smart Rewards.
It’s about as explicit a deal for your personal data as you can find. While most companies implicitly gather your info — use our services for free and in the background we’ll be watching what you do and then selling ads off of it — Verizon’s new program might be the most transparent ploy for data yet.
People have to be Verizon customers to participate. Members received one credit for every $300 spent, which can be redeemed for various offerings. Verizon’s website currently lists Lady Gaga tickets, Star Wars movie tickets, and smartphones. Verizon Up also teases other offerings like Uber and Amazon rewards.
The catch is that just being a Verizon customer isn’t enough. Verizon customers must also be signed up for Verizon Selects, which enables the company to track customers and then sell ads based on that data.
This data is very valuable to Verizon, particularly as it works toward its goal of becoming an alternative for advertisers looking beyond the online dominance of Google and Facebook. Verizon is hoping this user data, combined with its growing digital properties like its new media unit Oath (which includes both AOL and Yahoo), will make for a potent offering.
With Up, Verizon now gives customers an easy way to opt into Select.
On the bright side, Verizon is at least giving its customers something in return for their data. On the down side, it’s just another logical step toward a world where people feel they might as well get what they can for their personal information since it’s out there already.
At least we can get some Gaga tickets out of the deal.
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