The Pop Game

The Hollywood Stock Exchange has an offshoot in IMX, the interactive music exchange. In both games, you buy and sell the popularity of popular culture products, and then redeem your virtual earnings for real-world promotional goods and logo merchandise. The sponsors behind IMX are MuchMusic, a Canada-based music video channel, who get not only brand recognition but also good market data for their troubles.

They really do have some neat ideas to go with the game: a TV show centered on the IMX game plays the big IMX movers and shakers, both established large-cap and up-and-coming small-cap artists. There’s a dedication service where you can not only request songs, but have the person emailed to let them know you’ve send them a special message– which is often an insult. Plus, it’s a pretty sophisticated market. You can even short-sell artists you think are overplayed, although pump and dump schemes and other market manipulations are punishable by confiscation of your assets, a trading suspension, or permanent banishment from the game.

Needless to say, I’ve been playing a little, but I’m sure they’ve got me in the junk-data pile, since I’ve confessed to not getting the TV station and being over 25. People sometimes complain about targeted advertising or other forms of user profiling but I’m not opposed to it. I mean, if I were still 20 and watched these videos, I probably would want the shirt to go with it, and I’d want bands I liked to get on the show. Since I’m not, and I don’t want the shirt, there’s no reason I should influence the show, even if I influence the game.

See, every data collection process should involve weeding. I’ve seen sales-lead forms at trade shows that ask “are you a student?” meaning, essentially, “should we just circular-file your info right now?” It sounds callous or rude, but it’s not. If you’re a college student, do you want to be contacted by the sales team and persuaded to discuss twenty or thirty grand worth of rackmount blade servers? No. They could almost ask “OK if sales calls you?” but then people would say no, even if they were potential customers. It’s still easy enough to lie and get your info ignored– just say you make no money, watch no tv, never buy CDs, cars, clustered data servers, electrophoresis equipment. Alternately, to win promotional keychains and junk mail, just claim to be part of whatever demographic they’re aiming for. It’s just marketing data. It’s not like it’s your insurance records.

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