We learn in this New York Times article (Andrew Adam Newman, Dec. 22, 2011) of an advertising campaign for children's thermometers. The ads appear in "popular apps like Pandora," but only on devices used by mothers who live in areas experiencing a high rate of flu and who live "within two miles of retailers that carry the thermometer."
"Flu levels in your area are high," says the banner ad within an app. "Be prepared with [product name]."This breakthrough in advertising is made possible by Google Flu Trends, a predictive model for flu outbreaks using Google's massive database of Internet searches. The model has "a reporting lag of only about a day, outdoing C.D.C. flu reports, which typically are published a week or two after breakouts."
Arguably, the thermometer advertisers are performing a public service. I know from experience that it can be hard to take the temperature of a baby or toddler, and easier methods are welcome. It's also important to know whether your child has a fever and, if so, how severe it is. Getting the word out could be useful to mothers and even life-saving for children.
So I don't really object to this campaign. But I do deplore the advance in mind control.
Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director