Once upon a time, church was a staple of American life.
Today, that’s no longer the case. A recent Pew poll reported ~30% of US adults do not affiliate themselves with a specific religion.
Churches are feeling the absence and, per The Wall Street Journal, using Big Data to drive people back to the pews.
One of the companies helping…
… is Gloo, a 200-person tech company in Colorado that uses personal data to help churches identify individuals that could be ripe for recruitment.
The company has signed on 30k customers, which makes up ~10% of churches in the US.
Gloo’s platform builds web ads optimized for specific search terms on Google and social media, and directs searchers to a web page connecting them to a local church.
What kind of search terms, you ask?
Namely, topics that could signal an individual going through a personal crisis, including:
- Marriage difficulties
- Anxiety or depression
- Drug addiction
While the practice may sound questionable at best – to be fair – Gloo isn’t the only one. Churches have been using Facebook to target people in distress for years.
If it still makes you feel icky…
… you’re not alone. Wunderman Thompson – one of Gloo’s data providers – recently terminated its contract after the partnership was made public.
For its part, Gloo claims it no longer uses mental health data to target individuals, and contends all 3rd-party data is anonymized.
The lesson? When working in a moral gray area, you better be ready to prove you’re doing so in good faith.
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