New Company Aims To Reward Consumers For Their Personal Info

Truth is, there are advertisers and marketers out there just slavering over our personal information on the Internet, trying to get their hands on as much as they can so they can better pitch their products to us. From our Facebook profiles to our Internet searches, that info is like gold. And now there’s a company attempting to give consumers some reward, instead of just advertisers.

Bynamite is a start-up based in San Francisco that is attempting to help consumers reap some of the benefits from all that info we put out into the Internet universe, in effect allowing us to get a handle on one of our biggest resources — ourselves!

“There should be an economic opportunity on the consumer side,” Ginsu Yoon, a co-founder of the company, tells the New York Times. “Nearly all the investment and technology is on the advertising side.”

While the idea is interesting — a beta program where users can basically see how the commercial Internet sees them in terms of advertising preferences — even the company’s owners aren’t sure it will be successful or work how they want it to.

“I may be wrong about the product and our company,” Yoon said. “But I’m absolutely convinced that the direction is right, giving people a way to identify and use this store of value that is their personal information.”

If it does end up enabling consumers to use their info to trade for things of value, this kind of program sounds like a sweet match for anyone freaked out over how their personal information is used, or at least they could make some money while they’re being used.

Unboxed – Rewarding Consumers for Providing Personal Data [New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Xyjar says:

    “Rewarding Consumers for Providing Personal Date”

    Getting paid for going on a date? Intriguing.

  2. XTREME TOW says:

    “…see how the commercial internet sees them…”
    So, we can change our info around to discourage advertisers from sending us crap?
    Can we also change our info to get stuff we normally wouldn’t, but might want anyways?
    Attention advertisers: I want a six digit line of credit, Visa or Mastercharge. Whoever has the best rates will get my business. :D

  3. dragonfire81 says:

    So here’s what will happen: they’ll build up a huge database and some corporate entity will come along and offer them a big fat check for that database and this start-up company will end up whoring us out like everyone else does.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      From their FAQ:
      “Bynamite does not sell your email address to anyone. For the most part, we don’t even know who you are – we don’t collect your real name, street address, or payment information. The whole point of Bynamite is to make your relationships with advertisers better, not worse.”

      I’m skeptical too, but it is intriguing.

      • rbleader says:

        It knows your email address and at least the state and/or town (IP addresses are geotagged). Also, they don’t have to “sell the info,” but they can very well sell the company itself.

        • goodfellow_puck says:

          I’m not saying the company couldn’t be sold. I was trying to point out that the info they “collect” is no more intrusive than what you are already giving away just by browsing. The point of the site is to show how your browsing (and optional, buying) habits form advertisers view of you, where that info comes from, and allow you to delete or add preferences. The advertisers ALREADY have this info.

          Also, it does not ask for your email address (though I’m sure that’s something that could be collected, given the sites you visit). It does ask for your login to amazon and such if you want to tailor your buying habit ads, but uh…it’s going to take a braver soul than I to test that one.

  4. nybiker says:

    Right now their program only works with chrome & firefox. Since I use Opera, I will wait until their stuff works on Opera before I test things out.
    And I would like to see them (or somebody) stop the work-at-home, teeth whitening, and acai ads that get plastered all over the place. At least a car or travel ad might be a good one, but we all know (or should know) that those 3 categories are scams from the get-go.

  5. ginsu says:

    Hi there, I’m one of the Bynamite guys. It’s true, we don’t require email addresses or passwords to work – we’re trying to be useful by knowing only what advertisers already know about you. Some people will find us more useful if they do give additional information, but that’s a choice rather than a requirement. And where we do allow you to enter a password for another site, we’ve implemented that in a way so that the login info never comes to us, it just goes directly to that other site.

    Of course, it is always possible that some horrible company could buy ours and do bad things with the information. We think that what we’re trying here – making consumers more powerful than advertisers – is generally unappealing to horrible companies, so we hope that doesn’t happen. But I’d be foolish to deny that there’s some risk. You’ll just have to watch us over time, and decide if this is a company that walks its talk. Hopefully someday you’ll give us a try.

  6. Bob Lu says:

    I am not seeing how will this turn into an unique consumer reward program, however if it is really doing whatever it says it is doing (help you manage your profile on multiple major ad network), and effectively, I am willing to pay for the service.

  7. RvLeshrac says:

    As soon as a third-party company has the data, what then?

    Google can only monetize your information because they don’t provide *anyone else* with access to that data, but rather access to Google’s advertising service.

    Once you’ve sold someone your data, your data is no longer worth anything.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      The service claims to keep up to date with advertisers’ policies so that when you tell Bynamite you don’t want to see ads about say…politics, they send that along to the companies that have that info and have them remove it from their lists. Theoretically, anyway. It’s like when you tell amazon to remove a recommendation or item from your browsing history so they stop telling you to buy something you aren’t interested in.

  8. ommpa_loompa says:

    A cat on a laptop!! That is so original!!

  9. Crazytree says:

    Will a successful surgeon be rewarded more for providing personal information than a homeless crack bum?