Companies are taking advertising to new levels. They're getting to know you, even getting you to do some advertising for them. And they're using social media to do it.
American Express is using social networking in a new way. You can synch your Amex card to your Twitter account.
Then Amex tweets hashtags, words preceded by the pound symbol, about discounted items from participating stores and restaurants, such as McDonalds, Whole Foods, and Best Buy.
You tweet those hashtags to your followers, and Amex puts a discount for that item on your credit card.
Explained Dr. David Urban, Executive Associate Dean of the VCU School of Business, "When they go to a store, say Whole Foods, and they want to use their Amex cards to make purchases, they are automatically credited on their Amex account for whatever deal Whole Foods is offering."
The advantage: you get deals for doing something as simple as tweeting. But you are also essentially recommending American Express and other brands to your followers.
Said Urban, "Because once people re-tweet your message, then they are not only recommending that, but they're putting themselves on the line. Because its their reputation that goes along with whatever recommendation they make to their friends and followers on Twitter."
Hulu.com, the TV show and movie website, has launched another type of personalized advertising, called Ad Swap.
Don't want to watch the ad on the website? You can choose to watch a different one from several offered.
Be aware that when you click on your choice of ads and provide feedback, or tweet hashtags, you are giving companies information about you and what you like to buy. It's very similar to using store loyalty discount cards.
Said Urban, "When you do that you relinquish some personal information because it makes it possible for Amex to track exactly what you bought and when you bought it and where you went and so on. As long as consumers are comfortable with that, it's okay."