Thursday, November 19, 2009

How QuantCast Works

Quαantcast was originally designed to assess the demographics of website traffic so businesses could be aware of the website’s audience and advertise accordingly. This is evident as many of us have noticed how advertisements on these sites have changed to clearly target certain populations. So is Quαantcast some omnipotent being that magically generates fairly accurate demographic data? Close, but no. Instead Quαantcast uses what they call in their methodology, “the inference approach.” Simply stating, “The key to this approach is to compare directly measured data with reference points that provide known truths (for example web destinations that require registration) and to use this to calibrate models.” Not only does Quαantcast generalize demographics based on previously conducted studies, but in a more Big Brother fashion, collects cookie information from users as they visit sites, especially those which require profiles with demographic data. Also known as our digital footprints. We discussed something similar to this with the Lazer et al. article. Though Quαantcast is only publishing aggregated data without identifiers, it certainly raises some privacy issues.

What does this say about the power of businesses and advertising agencies?

How have social networking sites changed especially in terms of advertisements? For example, consider the 2008 Presidential campaign advertisements on Facebook.

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