For the past nine months, Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, tried to hide from the Internet the fact that she’s pregnant — and it wasn’t easy.
Pregnant women are incredibly valuable to marketers. For example, if a woman decides between Huggies and Pampers diapers, that’s a valuable, long-term decision that establishes a consumption pattern. According to Vertesi, the average person’s marketing data is worth 10 cents; a pregnant woman’s data skyrockets to $1.50. And once targeted advertising finds a pregnant woman, it won’t let up.
Vertesi said that by dodging advertising and traditional forms of consumerism, her activity raised a lot of red flags. When her husband tried to buy $500 worth of Amazon gift cards with cash in order to get a stroller, a notice at the Rite Aid counter said the company had a legal obligation to report excessive transactions to the authorities.
“Those kinds of activities, when you take them in the aggregate … are exactly the kinds of things that tag you as likely engaging in criminal activity, as opposed to just having a baby,” she said.