In a bid to ‘future proof’ themselves, Google have taken the unusual step this week of patenting the weather. Well, to be precise, weather sensing technology that would allow them to target you with advertising that matches your surroundings. A move that Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, has branded “an attempt to turn our devices into personal spying devices, just so a company can try to sell you a coat on a cold day.” Whilst Google maintains that it has no current plans to develop this technology, this article about the development on the BBC website can nonetheless serve as an interesting discussion on the direction that advertising is taking and the use of our personal data that now drives it. Get your students to read through the article then put them in smaller groups to discuss it. What is their take on this kind of advertising? A helpful strategy that means that you are only informed of products and services of interest to you or something altogether more sinister?
Whether they’re enthused or enraged get them to put their creative hats on and dream up just what sort of advertising Google might target to what weather condition; canoes for heavy rain fall? Hard hats for hail? A suggested list of different weather might be:
wind, light rain shower, hurricane, fog, snow, monsoon, heat wave, hail.
Get them to come together as a group afterwards and pool their suggestions; who came up with the most creative, unusual idea? In keeping with the theme of the article, Macmillan English Campus have a whole raft of resources about both advertising and the weather. A few you might try are:
‘Buying adverting space’ In this two-part business listening activity you listen to a telephone conversation between two advertising people trying to organize a business appointment.
‘Advertising and marketing methods’ This business vocabulary activity practises words and phrases in common use in the world of advertising and marketing today.
‘The weather forecast’ This vocabulary activity practises words for different types of weather.
‘The weather where you are’ In this business listening activity you listen to weather reports. You match cities around the world with the corresponding weather prediction.