Building personalized scenarios to make it real – Montreal

Please note: Brand names of popular sites are used in these scenarios for simplicity's sake. There is no intent to comment on or make suggestions about the privacy practices of the named sites.

“Louise and David’s World”

ScenarioLouise is a stylish 21-year-old college student who likes to meet people and try new things. She is active online, where she does everything from buying trendy clothing and concert tickets to keeping in touch with friends by posting updates and photos to her Facebook page.  Now in her final year of college, Louise is starting to look for a job. She is putting herself through school by making jewelry and selling it online. She also collects specialty comic books and belongs to an international network of comic book enthusiasts. Louise has a younger brother, David, who is nine years old.

Details for the Frontiers of Consumer Information Data Mining and Profiling Panel

Louise’s real life has been a bit rough recently as her parents split up and she went to live with her Mom in a much more modest neighbourhood. Even so, Louise definitely likes her online life.

She manages her online jewelry store. She’s a savvy bargain hunter and dedicated shopper. She regularly updates her Facebook wall with the latest gossip and pictures, enjoys locating friends and discovering new places with Foursquare, and finds time to tweet about her activities and thoughts.

Louise also helps her younger brother get signed up for the online games he likes so much by providing her credit card and e-mail account. When David signs up for games, he sometimes makes up information.

In the past six months, Louise discovered a new website dedicated to comic book enthusiasts and has made many friends on that site, people she then also friended on Facebook.

Since her jewelry business is going well, Louise was thinking of expanding. She would like to have a line of credit to provide her with some financial flexibility. She has been with the same financial institution since she was 7 and, although she did get a bit overexcited when she first got a credit card at 18, she has paid back her balance. She now makes her payments on time and has not had an outstanding balance in a year.

Louise makes an appointment with a credit manager and brings in her business plan and the summary of her personal and business accounts. The credit manager analyses them approvingly and tells her he doesn’t see a problem in her getting a line of credit. But he has to complete the process by running her application through a credit check. 

When he gets the results back, he informs her that, despite her apparently good financial records, she ranks low on the credit scores and is deemed too high a risk to be eligible for a line of credit. Louise is crushed and humiliated.

Details for the Online Identity and Reputation panel

Louise recently joined Second Life, so that she could attend a conference of fellow comic book enthusiasts held in the virtual world. In Second Life, she’s known as Vambrace. The week after the conference, Vambrace is approached by several merchants offering special deals for online and offline merchandise: limited-edition comic books, comic-themed art and furniture for her in-world home, as well as video games.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Louise receives a flyer in the mail, advertising a new comic book shop in her neighbourhood. According to the flyer, the shop is owned by a woman named Genevieve, whose avatar, Themyscira, had briefly chatted with Vambrace at the conference. Later that month, Louise gets a friend request on Facebook from Genevieve, with an invitation to meet someday for coffee.

Details for the Online Marketing Methods: Gaming, Advertising, Applications and Social Networks Panel

Each time Louise logs on to her Facebook account she sees her friends’ news feed about FarmVille. With daily requests for her help to get new animals, she decides to join the game.

When Louise first joins FarmVille, she consents to the following:

“Allowing FarmVille access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work.”

She then customizes her own avatar and becomes one of the 82,686,749 monthly active users of FarmVille.

FarmVille is Facebook application, created by Zynga, which allows users to have a virtual farm.

After only a few days, Louise is hooked! The game is based around the market, where items can be purchased using "farm coins," the currency of FarmVille that is earned by selling crops, or "farm cash" that you either earn, buy or get by taking various surveys, etc.

Louise frequently returns to the game to earn more money and take care of her farm. She recently bought and planted crops with FarmVille coins, so now the last thing she wants is for the plants to wither and die.

Louise also created a PayPal account to farm more quickly by buying virtual goods with her real-life money. When she realizes that she’s spending money on things she doesn’t actually own in the real world, Louise decides to look at the different “offers” available, where she can get in-game currency in exchange for her personal information which is then used by advertisers. She just has to sign up for “something” and/or become a fan of some sort of group. Easy.

Along with her own farm, Louise decides to invite her friends to join and be her neighbours (acquiring neighbours has benefits in game play). Gifts, such as trees, animals, and decorations, can be sent to both confirmed neighbours and any other Facebook friends, even if they do not use the application.

One day, Louise was pretty happy to find a new "Co-op Farming" feature added to FarmVille. This sets out a number of tasks that cannot be completed by individual players without the co-operation of neighbours. Gold, silver, or bronze medals are awarded to teams that are successful in completing the task within stated time limits, and winning teams gain bonuses in the form of farm coins and unique items. She decides to invite more friends.

Soon after, Louise is happy to grow a new product when peanuts become the first FarmVille crop to be directly sponsored by a corporation (ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi and an Israeli candy brand).

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