Spying on Yourself – A New Advertising Business Model

The best way to beat spyware may be to use "myware." Spy on yourself and control your own data.

Every click at Amazon.com, every search at Google, and all the stops in between are reported back to the websites you visit. All you get in return is the odd suggestion for a bird feeder you might want to purchase or some text ads you might want to click on.

Then there's the truly malicious stuff — spyware that inserts itself on your computer's hard drive and reports back everything you do to some spammer or an online marketer willing to pay the price.

Strange as it may sound, though, soon you may be spying on yourself. Why would anyone want to do that? Entrepreneur Seth Goldstein, whose startup Root Markets aims to create a financial market for consumer data, offers a compelling reason.

"Everybody else is spying on me," he says, "so I want to spy on myself."

But Goldstein wants a better copy of his online behavior than anyone else has, and he wants to have complete control over who gets to see it. Instead of spyware, he calls the software that will let him do this "myware."

Beyond the curiosity factor, he sees myware as a way people can deal with information overload simply by measuring how they spend time online. He also sees it as valuable information that they someday could exchange for something else beneficial.

With myware, consumers could have something valuable to offer businesses – information about their web habits. That could translate into better deals and more money, but most importantly it will help keep marketing more relevant and more efficient for both consumer and company.

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