David Kirkpatrick

May 15, 2009

Avoid online quizzes and scams

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:30 am

It ought to go without saying, but don’t waste your time with online quizzes — that free IQ test, RealAge and others — unless you’re interested in providing personal information to marketers, or even more nefarious characters.

From the link:

While Web quizzes may be fun to take, they’re also a powerful tool for companies to collect your data and even your money–and often in ways you might not notice. We’ll get to the spooky stuff in a moment, but let’s start with the simplest method of quiz-based marketing: advertising. The very nature of a typical online quiz requires you to divulge all sorts of details about yourself. Those tidbits of info are like nuggets of gold for advertisers craving a way to connect with you.

“The big trend is about engagement,” says Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst with eMarketer. “These quizzes are getting people to pay attention to ads.”

Paying attention, it seems, is almost a requirement: Aside from being carefully targeted at your interests, the ads are often in-your-face and impossible to avoid. Take, for example, TheFreeIQTest.com, a quiz I found via a text ad on Google. By the time I clicked through the 105th “offer” (aka advertisement) it threw in front of my results–no exaggeration–I gave up without seeing the results of the quiz.

“There’s a clear annoyance factor, leading people to one thing, then at the last minute bait-and-switching them,” Williamson says. “The challenge with this type of advertising is walking that line between people wanting it and people wanting it to go away.”

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