Thursday, 26 March 2009

Real Age Self Segmentation

Real Age, the site that asks you to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire to calculate your biological (as opposed to your chronological) age based on your life choices, habits etc has always escaped me - I have personally never quite grasped why more than 27 million people to date have filled out the 150+ questions the site asks. The questions themselves are very far reaching and cover topics that many of us are not generally comfortable sharing: from sleeping habits to sexual preferences. The reward for answering all of these questions is a calculated age which may be more or less than your actual age, this is followed by a series of emailed suggestions that will help you lower your calculated age (live longer in other words, which I guess is is quite a unique selling proposition).

An article in today's New York Times discusses the usage that the site (now owned by Hearst Newspapers) makes of the data collected - how this is shared with drug makers who can buy lists of users who answered certain questions in certain ways. I am perfectly OK with this as a practice, indeed the outcome for the consumer can be beneficial - I would however want to be sure that there is an explicit understanding on the consumer's part of how my data will be shared and used. Once I had understood the objective, I personally would also be looking for a higher return on my investment of time personal information than a calculation of my "real" age...