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New Media and Big Data

How Well Do Online Advertisers Know Us? Not At All, New Study Says

At this point, it is a somewhat universally known, if not happily accepted, fact that online advertisers watch our activity on the Internet and then claim to know the kind of people we are.  However, new research out from Seattle firm Enliken suggests that the inferences they’re drawing can be wrong over half the time.

The survey showed respondents what advertising companies thought they liked, and then asked them whether or not this was true.  On average, advertisers were only right about half the time, maybe wrong 13% of the time, and flat-out wrong 37% of the time.  The survey also asked about the privacy levels of the data these assumptions were based on, with some troubling results – respondents reported that, on average, 15% of the data used they considered to be private. Another 20% was questionable.

Enliken survey results

Enliken survey results suggest advertisers often make wrong assumptions about consumers

It is important to note that this survey is not representative; the sample size was only 116 people.  It’s also important to keep in mind that Enliken may not be the most objective of surveyors.  Their business is selling apps to companies that allow them to put up a paywall that customers can only bypass by agreeing to share details of their online activity, in order to give the companies more accurate information for advertising purposes.  Still, with everyone from car manufacturers to presidential candidates relying on this data to pinpoint likely customers or voters, the findings do point at a need to reconsider the accuracy of that information.

Read more at Quartz – “Up to half of what advertisers think they know about you is wrong



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