A Tumblr friend of mine, Tricia Wang, gave a talk about trust in online social networks at the Lift 12 conference in Geneva. Tricia is really great at stripping out industry and academic jargon and getting straight to the point. There are great points in this talk; give it your attention.

Presentation from the former head of Google’s UX department who’s now part of Facebook. 

Via The Scholarly Kitchen. 

World Map of Social Networks

Via The Society Page’s “Cyborgology”

Beyond Facebook: Other Online Networks

Everyone was duly blown away by this amazing map of Facebook connections around the world, created by Facebook’s superstar intern Paul Butler…Gaetz simply took the lines of Butler’s map, colored them black, and overlaid them against another map, showing all of the areas in the world with a population over 2 people per square mile. Which already is pretty revealing — you can see that vast tracts of land where plenty of people live are actually left out of Butler’s map altogether.”

Gaetz’s map shows that some of the dark spots on Butler’s original map indicate the strength and presence of other social networks (e.g., Orkut) as opposed to a small population or low GDP. 

Another gem from The Atlantic’s “Syllabus-as-essay” series. 

I think my StrategyOne and Edelman Digital colleagues will learn a lot from this essay.

Lastly, we set up six Facebook profiles to check the impact of sexual-preference: a highly-sensitive personal attribute. Two profiles (male control) are for males interested in females, two (female control) for females interested in males, and one test profile of a male interested in males and one of a female interested in females. The age and
location were set to 25 and Washington D.C. respectively. Figure 6 plots the similarity scores for 1 week of data. While there is more noise in general, unlike in 4(c) there is
a measurable difference between the control and test pairs; we further manually verified based on ad content that this difference is qualitative in nature (e.g. ads for gay bars were never shown for the control profiles, but shown often for the test profiles). The median similarity score for gay women was 0.15 higher than for gay men, indicating that advertisers target more strongly to the latter demographic.

Alarmingly, we found ads where the ad text was completely neutral to sexual-preference (e.g. for a nursing degree in a medical college in Florida) that was targeted exclusively to gay men. The danger with such ads, unlike the gay bar ad where the target demographic is blatantly obvious, is that the user reading the ad text would have no idea that by clicking it he would reveal to the advertiser both his sexual-preference and a unique identifier (cookie, IP address, or email address if he signs up on the advertiser’s site). Furthermore, such deceptive ads are not uncommon; indeed exactly half of the 66 ads shown exclusively to gay men (more than 50 times) during our experiment did not
mention “gay” anywhere in the ad text.

Overall we find that while location affects Google ads, behavioral targeting does not today appear to significantly affect either search or website ads on Google. Location, user demographics and interests, and sexual preference all affect Facebook ads.

From Challenges in Measuring Online Advertising Systems

 A Microsoft researcher and an engineer tested online advertising networks and the extent to which they use or do not use individual users’ behavioral characteristics (e.g., gender, sexuality) versus demographic information (e.g., age and location) to trigger ads. They created a set of test and control social profiles with a limited amount of personal information and analyzed the content of ads the profiles were delivered. The results showed that on Facebook, gay men were typically delivered advertising that used information based personal characteristics more than any other group on Facebook. Interestingly enough, the study seems to suggest that Google does not use individual characteristics to trigger ads.

Psychographic and behavioral advertising is the future, for better or worse.

Disclosure: Microsoft is an Edelman and StrategyOne client.

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