Somehow I was tricked -- my own fault -- into believing I was setting up a quick account at social network area Reunion.com -- all to access our company's holiday party photos. I assumed it would be a fast way to get what I needed. I'm sure I didn't read the fine print.
Instead, my password was used to access my email, through which spam was sent -- and continues to be repeatedly sent -- to all my contacts. The killer here is the messages continue to come not from Reunion.com, but apparently from me.
Nice marketing move -- except everyone on my list has been complaining about repeated efforts by Reunion.com to make them join up. Does that curry positive consumer feelings about Reunion? Nah. It does little for me as well. Sure, there's lot of spam floating around out there. Just do your daily deleting.
Lawsuits have been filed against the company -- but they have been thrown out because there's no apparent financial harm. The company says, "Hey, we didn't make them do it." True.
In this aggressive digital media universe, every sliver, every piece of consumer dust, is used to scale up businesses. We get that business model. The kicker is that Reunion.com goes to a different social networking crowd -- an older one -- which in theory works in the site's favor, especially as those potential consumers are typically less savvy to the ways of Internet spam.
This is where privacy and future set-top box information can collide. Imagine some future social network/TV program technological platform, where someone suggests a TV show to their friends.
In the ever-fractionalized world of TV programmers, businesses are fighting the same battles. Right now many call such TV efforts "permission" marketing. For example, want to learn more about Fox's "Lie To Me"? You can see a free preview on TiVo.
Years from now, it'll be tough-luck, you're-in-my-way marketing. You'll get previews of shows whether you want it or not. Turn on your TV, you'll have no choice but to see that new NBC drama before you watch "Desperate Housewives: Retirement Cougars." Waiting in traffic? Perhaps some holographic ads will pop up on your windshield.
Recently, TV show sponsor AT&T sent text messages to millions of "American Idol" viewers, reminding them of the new season of the show. This didn't have "Idol" fans all singing a happy song.
How far will TV programmers go in the future? Can they afford to piss off potential viewers? Word-of-mouth marketing goes a long way in entertainment/media circles. Best not to break that delicate bond; otherwise you'll have people angrily talking -- and writing.