Internet giant Google has drawn up plans to compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games.
Yep, “do no evil” Google has filed a patent on the process of building psychological profiles of its users for sale to advertisers.
Details such as whether a person is more likely to be aggressive, hostile or dishonest could be obtained and stored for future use, it says… Players who spend a lot of time exploring “may be interested in vacations, so the system may show ads for vacations”. And those who spend more time talking to other characters will see adverts for mobile phones.
Google claims it has no immediate plans to to use the technology, but the company did spend $23M to acquire AdScape, an in-game advertising company.
Adscape Media offers dynamic delivery of advertising with plot and storyline integration — making its solutions a truly interactive marketing platform. Adscape Media supports sophisticated demographic and geographic targeting and also provides a robust reporting interface for marketers.
And The Guardian also reports the patent application goes beyond psychological profiling:
Not all the inferences made by monitoring user activity rely on subtle psychological clues, however. “In a car racing game, after a user crashes his Honda Civic, an announcer could be used to advertise by saying ‘if he had a Hummer, he would have gotten the better of that altercation’, etc,” the patent says. And: “If the user has been playing for over two hours continuously, the system may display ads for Pizza Hut, Coke, coffee.”
Siva Vaidyanathan quips:
While it is violating gamer privacy on behalf of advertisers, will Google collect and disclose data about gamer sexism? And would this convince the folks at Linden Labs to integrate into their product dependable, remunerative employment opportunities for Second Life players who don’t want to do sex work?
Also interesting, but not from Google: METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR OBTAINING REVENUE FROM THE DISTRIBUTION OF HYPER-RELEVANT ADVERTISING THROUGH PERMISSIVE MIND READING, PROXIMITY ENCOUNTERS, AND DATABASE AGGREGATION. Permissive mind reading!