I am Frieder, and I am a firm believer that data exhaust is going to play an important role in the future of the internet economy. Data exhaust is the trail of clicks that users online leave when they visit any site. One example is the Google search engine. The algorithm Google uses partly depends on the number of clicks a link gets to determine how relevant it is to online users. For instance, if in the first page of search results, users seem to click on the item at number 9, Google will soon adjust its listing to place it high up on the list.
The Economist Predicted This
In 2010, a piece in the Economist titled ‘Data, data everywhere’ seems to have accurately predicted this issue. They wrote that in 2000, a telescope in New Mexico managed to collect more data in its first few weeks than in all the history of astronomy. In 2010, the telescope had collected more than 140 terabytes of data.
However, there is more information being collected right here on earth. Major online retailers are estimated to hold many petabytes of data. The technology has also come a long way. For instance, decoding the human genome took ten years but today, it can take less than a week.
The Economist had also estimated that by 2013, the amount of data flowing online would reach 667 exabytes. This was worrying since the data seemed to grow faster than the capacity of networks. The problem was partly caused by over a billion people globally joining the middle class in the last decade.
After reading the whole piece by the economist, I could not help but think how close the world was to becoming like what “The Matrix” films predicted. Almost everyone today, including me, has an online digital representation of themselves. Without thinking too much about privacy, most of the news and information I get today is sourced online. The way I consume information is data exhaust.
For advertisers, it is the best time to utilize Data Science in Advertising. It allows them to get a clear insight into what I like. With the right tools, advertisers can even predict what I will be doing an hour from now. While it might sound a bit scary, this is the future of advertising and one of the few ways to leverage economical growth in the near future.
What the Future Holds
In the past, steam from boiling water was considered exhaust. It only took a few experts with the right tools to figure out that steam could be used to power an entire economy. This is similar to what is considered data exhaust today. With the continued use of data science in advertising, the future of advertising could look quite different. I envision a time when using the right tools to harness data exhaust could lead to a doubling or even tripling of the size of the internet economy. For instance, the world produces over a zettabyte of data annually. That is a lot of exhaust, and it will only continue to grow.