Adtech-for-sex biz tells blockchain consent app firm, 'hold my beer'

Hey love, just click on this link... what do you mean, you're seeing loads of creepy articles?

Struggling to have a conversation with your partner about getting down and dirty? Well here’s an idea – use embedded native advertising to con them into initiating sex instead.

In the adtech world’s race to the bottom, a company has sprung up offering desperate men (yes, it is targeted at men) a service that claims it will get their wives (yes, it is aimed at wives) to make the first move in the bedroom.

“The Spinner* is a service that enables you to control articles presented to your wife on the websites she usually visits, in order to influence her on a subconscious level to initiate sex,” proclaims the site.

As if targeted advertising wasn’t creepy enough already.

The idea is simple: hand over $30, receive an “innocent looking link” to forward to your wife, she clicks on it, cookies attach to her device and – hey presto! – she sees articles apparently designed to set her pulse racing.

In the “basic package”, the “target” – as they are disturbingly referred to – will be “strategically bombarded” (if such a thing is possible) with 10 articles presented about 180 times over a three month period.

“The articles, along with their eye catching headlines, are written by a group of psychologists in order to influence the target on a subconscious level,” the company brags in its FAQ.

So what are these clever, achingly subtle titles that will make these unsuspecting women so desperate to rip their partners’ clothes off? Luckily, we’re given a couple of examples:

“5 ways to keep your husband permanently in love with you”

“3 reasons why you should initiate sex with your husband”

Ah yes, championing regressive views of a woman’s place in the world is a sure fire way to get ‘er indoors hot under the collar.

And demonstrating that they can do more than just stereotype men as frustrated hen-pecked types that can’t talk to their partners about sex, the biz also offers a “help around the house!” service. The target? “Husband”, of course.

Other ideas are the “don’t do drugs” campaign for professional athletes and the “play slots!” service to target, er, “slot machine players”.

Surveillance capitalism aside, is this even legal? We weren’t so sure – and the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and FAQ, full of typos and CAPSLOCK TEXT, didn’t give us much faith that a lawyer had been involved.

We asked the firm for more details and received this less than reassuring response from one Elliot Shefler saying it is legal, but that he couldn't say more:

“We get that all the time: unbelievable, technically impossible, can't be legal.  It's real. I am not allowed to talk about legal aspects, but i can refer you to our terms of use and privecy policy. [sic]”

Probing further, it seems the firm is relying on two things to back away from any liability: first, that the sites “the target” visits, and that host the ads, will have their own cookie notices. Second, this line in their terms:

“If the initiator of the service (i.e. the party that ordered and/or paid for the service) sends the "targeting link" to any other user via any digital media, it is the initiator's responsibility to refer the "sent" party to The Spinner's Terms of use and privacy policy.”

Now, El Reg can’t speak for everyone – who are we to judge people’s kinks? – but we’re not convinced that receiving a text with Ts&Cs attached would arouse much more than our suspicions.

Regardless, it seems safe to surmise that anyone seriously planning to use this service wouldn't fess up to it, as it would be pretty counterintuitive to send a link setting out exactly what you're up to – and how much you'll pay to avoid a conversation.

Of course we shouldn’t be surprised that some techbros have jumped on the opportunity to apply Google et al’s incredibly successful marketing model to make a quick buck from men who believe women should be a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed.

Earlier this year, some of them decided to cash in on the MeToo movement with the reductive idea of a "consent app" using blockchain contracts so you didn’t actually have to talk to your partner about doing the deed. ®

*We've chosen not to link to The Spinner – JFGI if you need to check it out.

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