The Coming Commodification of Life at Home

Joe Pinsker:

As internet-connected devices and appliances accumulate, one academic foresees “the monetization of every move you make.”

“Imagine this,” says an advertising consultant named Barry Lowenthal. “I’m a smart toaster, and I’m collecting data on how many times the toaster is used.”

I’ve just asked Lowenthal what he, as an advertiser, would be able to do with data transmitted from an internet-connected appliance, and I happened to mention a toaster. He thought through the possibility of an appliance that can detect what it’s being asked to brown: “If I’m toasting rye bread, a bagel company might be interested in knowing that, because they can re-target that household with bagel advertising because they already know it’s a household that eats bread, toasts bread, is open to carbs. Maybe they would also be open to bagels. And then they can probably cross that with credit-card data and know that this is a household that hasn’t bought bagels in the last year. I mean, it’s going to be amazing, from a targeting perspective.”