Tracking online ads

We browse online, we see ads, and we buy stuff. The better-targeted the ads are, the more likely that we buy stuff. So of course advertisers continue on ways to guess who you are and what you might want to increase the chances that you click and spend. Floodwatch, a Chrome extension by the Office for Creative Research and Ashkhan Soltani, lets you turn it around ever so slightly so that you can track what the advertisers serve you.

Leave the extension on, and see banners advertisers served you, along with metadata such as size, time, and the site an ad was on. You can also compare your banner set to what other Floodwatch users see and filter by demographic.

That second view, shown above, is in line with the overarching goal of Floodwatch. Anonymously share your data to help researchers decipher the algorithms behind the advertising black box.

Extension installed and enabled.

Video below for more on the project:

See also the writeup by Jer Thorp from OCR. He showed his banner profile to ten anonymous people on Amazon Mechanical Turk and asked them to guess the type of person he was — lonely but likely living an exciting life and Jewish.

Favorites

A Day in the Life of Americans

I wanted to see how daily patterns emerge at the individual level and how a person’s entire day plays out. So I simulated 1,000 of them.

Causes of Death

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Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Best Data Visualization Projects of 2016

Here are my favorites for the year.