A marketing team within media giant Cox Media Group (CMG) claims it has the capability to listen to ambient conversations of consumers through embedded microphones in smartphones, smart TVs, and other devices to gather data and use it to target ads, according to a review of CMG marketing materials by 404 Media and details from a pitch given to an outside marketing professional. From a report: Called “Active Listening,” CMG claims the capability can identify potential customers “based on casual conversations in real time.” The news signals that what a huge swath of the public has believed for years — that smartphones are listening to people in order to deliver ads — may finally be a reality in certain situations. Until now, there was no evidence that such a capability actually existed, but its myth permeated due to how sophisticated other ad tracking methods have become.

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