Online Personalization Means Prices Are Tailored to You, Too
If you were to walk into a brick and mortar store and they were offering better prices for less affluent people there would be a revolt, right? No one would stand for this. Christo Wilson, a computer scientist at Northeastern University. But on the Internet, he says, anything goes when it comes to pricing. It is super subjective. Everything can be personalized.
Wilson and his colleagues analyzed just how personal online shopping can get. They compared the search results of 300 real-world users to searches by cookie-free, fake accounts on 16 major e-commerce sites. Turns out half the sites personalized search results, based on who was searching. Especially travel sites. Expedia and Hotels.com prioritized more expensive hotels for certain users; and Priceline skewed search results based on past purchases.
威尔逊跟他的同事分析网上购物到底有多么个性化。他们把300个真实网购的用户的调查结果与16家主要的电子商务网站的缓存信息和虚假账号进行比较。基于调查对象得出：有一半的网站有个性化的搜索结果。特别是旅游网站，艾派迪酒店网站（Expedia and Hotels.com）为一些用户优先提供一些昂贵的酒店，缤客网（Priceline）则基于过去的购买力偏向调查的一部分人。
But Wilsons favorite example of variable online pricing was HomeDepot.com - where shoppers on mobile devices tend to be offered much more expensive items. Its like you went on your desktop and you search for a table and they give you a plastic folding table; but you search from your phone and they give you a mahogany dining room table. The researchers will present their findings on November 6th at the Internet Measurement Conference in Vancouver. [Aniko Hannak et al: Measuring Price Discrimination and Steering on E-commerce Web Sites]
For all you comparison shoppers, heres Wilsons advice on how to beat the bots. Do the search from your desktop, as you normally would. You should also do the search from an incognito or a private window. You should also then do the search from your mobile, or your tablet. And then if youre really paranoid, you should also talk to a friend or a family member or friend, and have them also do the search. We;ve gone from brick and mortarto click and be mortified.