Right now big data is at the heart of every company’s interest. The digitalization of everyday life produced enormous quantities of data requiring novel analytical approaches and instruments. Facebook has recently been the target of a huge scandal involving big data. Recently, the social media giant released information regarding a social psychological experiment undertaken in 2012. Everybody had an opinion about what Facebook did, literally only one opinion. The study was unethical, the accusers hastily pointed out. It sure was by any deontological code from any social science. But more importantly is how Facebook naturally decided to perform the study as it did. We all gave our data freely to Facebook and everyone knew that the company will squeeze every drop of profit out of it. So how was that more of a surprise instead of just business as usual?
Apple recently faced accusations regarding the privacy of users’ data as well, this time specifically from the Chinese Government.
Big data provides huge advantages for marketing. By using big data, advertisers can target ads more precisely than ever, dramatically increasing the efficiency of the process. For many decades, TV was the most efficient channel if advertisers wanted to reach the widest audience. But finding out more detailed who watches the ads was a costly process. Nielsen Hldg NV, the established information measurement company, plans to use new methods to find out the two most important socio-demographic variables, age and gender easier than ever.
Online TV watching habits using anonymizing techniques
Nielsen and Facebook teamed up to achieve more detailed consumer data regarding the online TV watching habits on mobile devices. The new tracking method will be deployed at the start of the Fall 2014 television season. Facebook users who did not opt out from tracking will automatically offer the data on their consumption behavior to the two companies. Probably because of the recent scandal, Facebook and Nielsen agreed to use a double blind procedure. So Nielsen will provide Facebook with a anonymized show titles and, in return, Facebook will offer aggregated data regarding the age and gender of the viewers.
Privacy advocates have every reason to be concerned once more. “We don’t believe that audience measurement systems should be used to adjust targeting; they should only be used for measurement. This protects the privacy of people viewing ads and ensures that both advertisers and publishers have the same information about the audiences.”, someone from Facebook pointed out for LA Times. So why would anyone want to measure the online TV watching habits, if not to subsequently adjust targeting? A mystery for the moment. Stay tuned for more information coming this fall.