Reply to post: Re: The complaint seems confused

Someone made an AI that predicted gender from email addresses, usernames. It went about as well as expected

Lee D Silver badge

Re: The complaint seems confused

I'm dubious that any data available to an advertiser is of any use at all, to be honest.

When was the last time that you got an ad and thought "Well, that's really relevant to me!"? You get IT ads on IT sites and bikini ads on swimwear sites, and then those follow you through the rest of the Internet because of the magic of Google Ads.

At no point do the advertisers seem to know anything about *me* when they advertise to me. If you're an advertiser and you want to sell, say, tampons... are you really going to go to extraordinary lengths to identify every user's gender based on their username, browsing history, IP address history? I don't think you really are. You're going to advertise on sites that women use, and on searches for feminine products.

It's like the loyalty card thing with supermarkets. When they first came out, they were a vital source of information that the supermarkets couldn't collate themselves. Transactions were just transaction and they had no way to link your shopping this week to next week. Now, the supermarkets themselves admit that it's quite useless as the data is readily available and not very useful. They can link all your purchases together, but they can pretty much do that with credit card data anyway.

And what do they find? People buy more sunhats and salads in the summer. What an insight! And it doesn't help at all to predict, say, a pandemic leaving you with a severe toilet paper shortage.

And every time I get through my Tesco's clubcard statement with discount codes, it's literally for the same things as everyone else's, because they're pushing a particular product, not aiming it at me particularly. They're not trying to make me, a tee-totaller, buy whisky but to sell off the whisky they got cheap. So they don't even customise to whether I drink or not - removing or targeting products based on that - and that's an easy thing to determine from my purchase history (because I've not bought alcohol on it all the time I've had it). My ex and I both had cards and for a while, they were registered at different addresses. The offers to us both were identical. And pretty much things like their stock control and inventory programs tell them everything they need to order or push anyway.

All this data is useless, and I very much doubt anyone's really interested in buying something that guesses based on your username, when Google could let you target to people who have actually visited any of billions of gender-focused websites across the globe, or purchased gendered products.

And even then... I'm not quite sure that you could determine with any accuracy if, say, a couple shared a laptop at home.

All this data is valueless nowadays. It's not used for targeting because it doesn't work and isn't accurate enough and, in the end, makes little difference to the success of an advertising campaign.

Think of everything Google knows about you. Now go to YouTube. Do you get a men's razor ad, or a tampon ad? Neither. You get Grammarly. Because it is relevant to everyone. Go to a review of a men's razor, or even a car website. You'll get razor ads. Go to a beauty salon page or a handbag store, you'll get tampon ads.

The data just isn't valuable and isn't used for those kinds of things. Even Tesco's, Sainsbury's etc. say exactly that. There's a reason that ASDA (Walmart) don't even have such a loyalty scheme. It's seen as a waste of money, because the data is worthless.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020