Looking for some extra cash and don’t mind if someone listens in on your conversations while you watch television and surf the internet? Symphony Advanced Media will be looking for 35,000 more “media insiders” in the near future and are hoping that you will allow them access to your cell phone’s microphone so that they can eavesdrop in on your television viewing habits, gain understanding of what type of media you are consuming on a daily basis, and create a “digital day in the life” of your habits.
The Daily Mail reports that Symphony Advanced Media works with “media insiders” to monitor consumer television viewing habits. The company has software that can be downloaded onto a cell phone via an app that allows the company to listen in when people turn on the television and monitor your behavior across digital platforms. The app is designed to identify if the viewer is watching broadcast television or streaming content and to determine what media variations you are exposed to daily. This information is then collected and is being used to determine “how consumers are consuming media across platforms.”
— Julia Wrenn (@TheWrennaisance) January 16, 2016
The CEO, Charles Buchwalter, told the Observer that the company wants to “track individuals” as they encounter media in their daily lives. He says the information is used to create a “digital day in the life of Americans” across all media platforms. However, to accomplish that feat, the company needs more users.
It is reported that Symphony Advanced Media currently has 15,000 “media insiders” that are paid for allowing the company to listen in each time they turn on the television, whether it be broadcast or streaming content. The people chosen for the program agree to allowing the intrusive listening and download an app to their phone that taps into their mobile phone’s mic. However, they hope to increase that number to 20,000 by the end of year and then increase it to 50,000 a short time later.
So what exactly is Symphony Advanced Media doing with the data? As one of their promotional videos suggests, their data can be useful to marketers wanting to know if their advertisements are making it to their desired consumers.
“Symphony Advanced Media is single source data collection — understanding the behavior of consumers across multi media with a representative panel of consumers, providing advertisers, media companies and market research firms, the opportunity for insights into this behavior.”
Therefore, it seems that the media company sells the data they obtain from your viewing habits to companies who will to fork over the money for the information. The company notes that their integrated smartphone application tracks both content and advertising that the end user is exposed to on a daily basis. The real-time data is then sent back to Symphony for processing.
— Gabbi Stubbs (@gabbistubbs) January 15, 2016
Some of the things the software claims it can track include:
- Tracking call, text, and email volume
- Track how long mobile apps are used and how many times they are opened
- Access Twitter and Facebook data from API
- Provide GPS location of users
- Track internet traffic and keyword searches
- Track streaming and broadcast television content and advertising
If you aren’t worried about a marketing company having access to all of that data from your smartphone, you can sign up to be “media insider” here. Rewards for participating in the marketing research include gift cards and Paypal payments. According to the Symphony website, participants earn rewards by remaining active and allowing the website access to their devices. Each family can connect up to three devices, the more devices, the more rewards earned. The website notes that you earn $5 gift cards for each 500 points earned or you can redeem 2,500 points for a $25 Paypal reward.
Would you provide a marketing company this type of access to your personal data for gift cards and Paypal payments? Or do you think programs such as this are too intrusive?
[Image via Shutterstock/ra2studio]