Marketing company claims it’s actually listening to your phone and smart speakers to target ads

A marketing company has claimed to have the capability to listen to customers’ conversations through embedded microphones in smartphones, TVs and other related devices.

The report from 404 Media details that the information captured would be used to gather data and push advertising as part of a product called Active Listening.

We have all been there. It starts with looking at something on a website then you start seeing adverts for it on your phone. It gets worse when you happen to be talking about a different place or product and all of a sudden, the adverts are coming back to you like a boomerang.

Yes, some people have been convinced that phones already have been recording us surreptitiously in a tangled web that involves online permissions, sophisticated advertising techniques and web cookies.

Permission to be listened to

Within Cox Media Group, a marketing team has been briefing on this product news to interested, potential clients but it is unknown if the service is already in use, or ready-made and future proof, as the 404 report portays.

It states that a representative from CMG was speaking directly about the Active Listening product on LinkedIn and inviting expressions of interest.

CMG claims that the product can “target your advertising to the exact people you are looking for,” based on what is captured in normal, everyday conversations.

Users can “claim” a territory within a small radius and then with an audience secured, CMG is able to roll-out an advertising deck, targeted at customers through TV and audio streaming, display ads, Google and YouTube.

Transparency around such a product is as welcome as it is rare, given the obvious concerns that consumers would have if they knew their devices were being used to target them directly. There are also obvious safety and legislative concerns.

However, the small print when we are accepting terms and conditions online isn’t checked often, meaning that you can be giving your permission to be listened to in your own home or wherever you may be.

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