So many, many, many articles with the frayed line “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product” when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Google and any free services out there.
Yet people pay for the Irish Times newspaper (Print edition) and the Irish Times sells data about you to advertisers:
The Irish Times has a higher percentage of ABC1 readers than any other Irish daily newspaper.
66% of Irish Times readers read no other paid-for Irish daily newspaper.
62% of regular visitors to irishtimes.com are ABC1.
You buy the Irish Times? You are the product.
Maybe you pay for your TV licence but you are still the product when you listen to RTÉ Radio. Rate card with demographic breakdowns.
If there’s advertising then people are the products too. What about music festivals? You pay a chunk of money for a weekend pass and the festival organisers charge brands to have stands at the event because hungry, thirsty and fun seeking people will be at the festival. And they are of age ranges 21-27 mostly and 45% female and 55% male etc.
So maybe you are the product if it’s free OR of value but has advertising.
Well… If you buy an iPhone, are you also “the product”? There’s no advertising on your phone but there is commerce around you and your phone. Apple use the fact that hundreds of millions of people use iOS devices to do deals with media companies and to encourage developers to make apps that they can sell to the iPhone users. And Apple gets a 30% cut of those transactions. They do deals with telecoms carriers to sell the phone on their networks using data showing how much an iPhone user spends on average over a contract.
If you have money or even just attention that can be extracted by another party, you’re the product. We have always been the product. If you’re reading this, are you the product?