I love pudding -- chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, tapioca. Mmmm!
There's a new pudding, though,that makes my stomach a bit queasy. It's called Pudding Media and The New York Times wrote about it yesterday. The company, based in Silicon Valley, just introduced a web phone service that will allow people unlimited free calling. But there's a catch, which is what makes me nervous.
In exchange for free phone calls, Pudding will listen in on your conversation to see what you're talking about. Voice recognition software will pick up on key words or phrases and then send you ads, by email or directly to your computer screen, based on what you've been talking about.
If your conversation is about movies, you may soon get emails promoting new films coming out. Talk about pot, you may get ads for Farberware. (Or perhaps a visit from the local police.)
It sounds a bit too Big Brother-ish for me, and evidently for some ad execs who said they'd have concerns that it's too invasive. If I were a marketer, I think I'd opt to stay away from this, even though it can be a finely targeted medium. Although users would know they'll be getting hit with ads in exchange for phone service, I wonder how many emails or pop-ups would simply be deleted without even getting looked at.
For those who don't mind being monitored by Big Brother in order to have free phone calls, Pudding might work. For me, I'll just keep paying my AT&T bill every month, knowing no one is eavesdropping.
Not that my conversations are all that interesting.