Big Brother on Your Hip

October 23rd, 2008 | Sources: Wall Street Journal

Subjects: ,

Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI) has developed software that transforms cell phones into monitoring devices that identify audio streams from advertisements, TV shows or movies so that its customers can ascertain what you’re listening to and how it affects your behavior.

The souped-up cell phones can thus track the effectiveness of ad campaigns. For example, did you watch a movie after you saw its trailer on television?

The San Mateo-based IMMI is in start-up mode right now. It has enrolled 4,900 testing panelists in 6 markets. It pays each panelist $50 per month or offers free cell phone service in exchange for the panelists’ agreement to carry software-enabled phones wherever they go.

 IMMI’s technology can’t track the impact of Internet ads or print ads because they don’t involve audio. Still, IMMI has attracted attention from some big dogs. For example, GE’s NBC Universal uses IMMI to study how people watch sporting events like the Beijing Olympics and TV shows like Saturday Night Live.

Interestingly, IMMI recently reported that of the people who caught an SNL sketch featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, only one third watched the parody live on TV. The rest watched after the fact, either on a DVR or the Internet. 

By the way, IMMI assures you that your conversations are not being captured by their phones, since there isn’t a match in its coded data base for whatever it is you’re talking about. Matches only exist for audio from IMMI’s paying customers. Seriously.


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