MindSift, a small New Hampshire-based company, is part of a new push that aims to target ads by listening to peoples’ everyday conversations through microphones in their smart devices, according to a review of recently deleted sections from MindSift’s website and comments made on a podcast unearthed by 404 Media.
MindSift has been deleting details about its technology from the internet in recent days, but two of the three founders of the company go into detail about their technology on a small podcast they cohost called “Real Business Roundtable” where they give advice to entrepreneurs. In an episode about “Messaging,” Andy Galeshahi, one of the cofounders of the company, says when discussing MindSift to potential clients. “I’ll say like, ‘Hey, have you ever talked about something and saw an ad for it?’ We’re the guys. That’s us. We distribute the tech. The technology has been around for a while but the torch has been passed.” Most episodes of the podcast have under 50 views on YouTube.
MindSift claims they get access to this type of data through another vendor, who they do not name: "Thankfully, we were able to get our hands on it from a very long-standing relationship that we had with a technology group, and now we are bringing this to small, medium, and even large businesses," Galeshahi said in an October, 2022 episode of the podcast called “ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.”
The news provides the clearest evidence yet that some companies claim to have crossed the line of listening to ambient audio around consumers through their own devices, picking up on what themes they are talking about, and then targeting ads to them based on those utterances. The findings come after 404 Media first revealed that a section of Cox Media Group (CMG) had recently pitched such a capability to businesses. MindSift’s founders provide more information about the supply chain of microphone data.
“Yes, your devices are listening to you. :)” a section of MindSift’s website discussing the company’s key features recently read. “By leveraging voice data, our technology is able to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior and intent. This information can then be used to deliver personalized and relevant advertising content,” the site adds. MindSift’s website says the company does this by analyzing “millions of device’s [sic] microphone data.” MindSift summarizes its capability as making “it possible to know exactly when someone is in the market for virtually any product or service in real-time, giving you a significant advantage over competition.”