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How Do Facebook Data Scientists Use Your Information?
By Aditi Bhat
You must've seen various articles saying 'Facebook knows you better than you know yourself.' Well, thanks to data science, that is not very far from the truth. 'Liking' your favourite TV series, sports team, or book on Facebook says a lot more about who you are than you think.
Facebook has around 2.2 billion (as of the fourth quarter of 2017) active monthly users, which is more than the population of China! And China doesn’t even have Facebook. With approximately 1.37 billion visits every day, Facebook servers collect behavioural data of the users, their likes, interests, and much more.
The data collected is not dumped. It is rather amalgamated with Facebook Advertising, which in turn helps businesses and brands across the globe to reach customers who are active on Facebook and show things inline with their interests. Every time you click on an ad, ‘like’ a picture or write a comment, you add another data point in the vast database of this social media platform.
The data collected makes the ads more relevant and brings in some concrete results for the brand. Here’s what data scientists do with your profile information and use the same to connect you with your favourite brands:
1) Like the way you 'like'
This addictive invention that came into existence with Facebook, contributes to the generation of four petabytes of data on the website every day. Apart from being an integral part of the platform, the ‘like’ button now appears on other apps and websites as well. When a person hits the ‘like’ button, the information passes along to the servers of Facebook. Now, when a data scientist knows what he/she admires, the algorithm incorporates the information in such a way that the person sees relevant ads on his/her timeline.
2) Precise tracking
If you believe that your clicks go unnoticed on this social media platform, you need to think again! The data scientists track user behaviour by monitoring and analysing clicks. Once the pattern is defined, the ads are displayed on the newsfeed accordingly. The data science of “clicks” is indeed a sophisticated process for it requires the development of clusters on the basis of click pattern.
3) The FB algorithm
The data science geniuses at Facebook came up with an algorithm in the year 2014. Since then, this unique model has been putting relevant content on top of user’s timeline. Based on the interests mentioned by the user in his/her profile, the pages that he/she regularly interact with, this algorithm effectively buries everything else and highlights only those products, services, brands and ads that are liked by the user.
4) Alliance with data science companies
Facebook’s partnership with data science companies such as Acixom and Datalogix helps to a great extent in filling the blanks. These firms collect information from credit cards and loyalty programs and then match it to social media user IDs. This enables them to establish buying patterns of users and place them in various 'buyer' categories. So if you're a regular online shopper of premium shoes, don't be surprised if you start seeing ads from another luxury shoe brand just after a purchase.
5) Tracking pixels
There are approximately 2 million websites over the internet which have the Facebook Tracking Pixel on them. This tracking pixel helps the website owners retarget their visitors once they leave the website and log onto Facebook. So if you've seen a Facebook ad from Flipkart right after you visited their website, make no mistake, it is no coincidence.
As per TechCrunch, “Facebook offers the broadest, deepest, and the most comprehensive datasets of human information, interests, and activities ever collected. (Only the NSA knows for sure.)” With the approximate collection of 10,000 data points from each and every user, richest data sets in the world, and cutting-edge technology that turns their insights into real products, the data scientists of Facebook have brought a revolution in the world of advertising.
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