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Knowing When Customers are Online

imwatchingDo your customers have AOL Instant Messaging? A new service profiled in the New York Times can help you discover patterns in their online connectivity.

A new site, IMWatching, lets you enter the screen-names of up to 40 people whose activity on AOL Instant Messenger you want to track. The site, which is not affiliated with AOL, collects what it calls "presence data," or information on when those users sign on, sign off, go idle or flag themselves as being away.

Because the users being tracked are not notified, my first impression of the service was Big Buddy Is Watching You. But many IM users will probably find it useful. And it can be blocked by adjusting the visibility preferences in your IM client.

"I realize this application is borderline-scary," said the service's creator, Gregory Harfst, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But you can't browse screen names or track people you don't know."

While some will feel that this technology is intrusive it is possible for users to block the service and people are beginning to realize that everything they do online can be seen and tracked by others.

Knowing when and how long your customers spend time online can give you insight into their level of comfort with the Internet among a host of other insights. IMWatching is another tool to help build your customer knowledge and customer intuition.

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July 30, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Business Marketing, CMO, Web/Tech | Permalink


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