CRM Magazine - Geolocation: Advertising's Future or 1984 Revisited?


(01-Jun-11) Airstrip One, Oceania, the setting of George Orwell’s science fiction novel 1984, was once considered unrealistic and even ridiculous. Constant war plagued the imaginary province, and the government manipulated its citizens with mind control tactics and public surveillance. In fact, privacy did not exist, and many people lived in seemingly bizarre apartments furnished with two-way telescreens, allowing for a true big brother-esque way of life. The telescreens also were found in workplaces and other public spots, along with hidden microphones to pick up all conversations.

Spoiler alert: When faced with the opportunity to escape to the outside world (sans surveillance), Winston, the story’s main character, ultimately chooses to stay in Oceania, accepting and even falling in love with Orwellian life.

Almost 62 years after the novel’s 1949 publish date (and 27 years past the futuristic 1984 plot), surveillance is again a topic of discussion, and not just in literary circles. Once used in criminal and fraud investigations, geolocation is becoming increasingly popular in location-based advertising campaigns on mobile devices and social networking Web sites. This new form of advertising uses location-tracking technology in mobile networks to target consumers with location-specific advertisements.

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