For the past nine months, Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, tried to hide from the Internet the fact that she’s pregnant — and it wasn’t easy.
Pregnant women are incredibly valuable to marketers. For example, if a woman decides between Huggies and Pampers diapers, that’s a valuable, long-term decision that establishes a consumption pattern. According to Vertesi, the average person’s marketing data is worth 10 cents; a pregnant woman’s data skyrockets to $1.50. And once targeted advertising finds a pregnant woman, it won’t let up.
Vertesi presented on big data at the Theorizing the Web conference in Brooklyn on Friday, where she discussed how she hid her pregnancy, the challenges she faced and how the experience sheds light on the overall political and social implications of data-collecting bots and cookies.
“My story is about big data, but from the bottom up,” she said. “From a very personal perspective of what it takes to avoid being collected, being tracked and being placed into databases.”