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Analyzing Your Tweets Could Help Advertisers Understand Your Personality And Sell You More Stuff

By scraping your tweets, these researchers can get insight into your personality

smithsonian.com

You don’t need to take Google’s personality test; you’re already revealing enough on Twitter. Image: Google homepage screenshot

Advertisers are well versed in demographics: 22-year-old male? You get ads for beer, energy drinks, and video games. 26-year-old male? Now we’re hitting car insurance and home loan territory.

The advent of internet cookies have changed advertising even more. Now if you spent all day Googling the new Lord of the Rings trailer, that’s probably what you’ll see all over the web. The same goes with Amazon purchases and Facebook likes.

Advertisers are getting pretty good at knowing what we want; the next step is figuring out exactly how to sell that thing to you, specifically. At MIT Technology Review, Tom Simonite explains how a team from IBM have figured out how to crunch through your Twitter messages to extract not just keywords, but an insight into your personality. By knowing who you are—introverted or extroverted, liberal or conservative, cooperative or fighty—and by already knowing what you want, advertisers could push ads meant just for you.

Zhou’s software develops a personality profile based on a person’s most recent few hundred or thousand Twitter updates. That profile scores the “big five” traits commonly used in psychological research: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. It also scores the person on measures of “values” (for example, hedonism and conservatism) and “needs” (for example, curiosity and social harmony).”

Previous research using Facebook, says Tech Review, has shown that social media updates can be used to understand people’s values, beyond the simple “likes” they share.

More from Smithsonian.com:

360-Year-Old Advertisement Extolls Coffee’s Virtues
Billboard Advertising in the City of Blade Runner

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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