Ideas, insights and inspirations.

What was once considered high-priced influence — to change customer buying habits, or impact voter behavior — is now within reach of anyone with a smart phone and a few hundred dollars. I see this commoditization from multiple angles — as the CEO of a digital marketing agency, as a digital policy wonk (computer science/Cornell, business/Carnegie Mellon), lifelong reader of all-things psychology, and as someone who grew up in a country where foreign governments routinely influence elections. Digital tools, like all tools, are inherently neutral. Whether they are used for greater good or nefarious ends depends on who uses them. Some data-informed digital economy innovations have been embraced by consumers (Amazon, Netflix and Spotify recommendations engines). Other uses of data and digital reach (Target’s “are you pregnant” algorithm) proved to be more invasive and presumptuous. Not every woman who buys large cotton balls, scentless soap, hand sanitizers and washcloths welcomes coupons for baby products. Still other uses of data and … Continue reading

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