Most of us cannot understand why anyone would be interested in what we view online, except maybe suspicious girlfriends, boyfriends or nosey family members.
Yet for some reason, websites and social media are interested in our online activities. This is because they are trying to figure out how to attract the right demographic. The only way to do that is to see what their consumers like.
Web developer Joshua Clarke says, “You need to know who you’re selling to before you sell it to them. For example, you don’t want to be selling life insurance to an eighty-seven-year-old because she probably doesn’t care about life insurance. You want to be selling it to the twenty-five-year-old who is just starting their career.”
Most people don’t like to be bombarded by surveys or questionnaires - especially one asking “How did we do today?” - if they’re only trying to view an article of clothing. Companies needed a non-disturbing, if invasive, way to collect the information needed to make their site more appealing to their target audience.
In her article published in August of the year 2000 in Vol. 43, No. 8 Communications of the ACM Web Usage Mining for Web Site Evaluation, Myra Spiliopoulou discussed how and why web usage mining is used. “We can perform [web usage] mining to optimize the performance of a Web server, to discover which products are being purchased together, or to identify whether the site is being used as expected,” (129). Web usage mining is an application of data mining methods to learn patterns from the way the internet is used. It is also an effective tool to get at the root of the data needed to create a website or application that is effective in whichever way a company needs it to be.
In Time Magazine, Joel Stein wrote an article titled *Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You*. In the article Stein brings up another compelling reason as to why companies our interested in what we do online, “Each of these pieces of information (and misinformation) about me is sold for about two-fifths of a cent to advertisers, which then deliver me an Internet ad, send me a catalog or mail me a credit-card offer.” Companies care because they can gain a profit off of our information by selling it to other companies.
In the end companies only care about the things you do and view online if it can prove to be profitable to them. It has nothing to do with them wanting to impede on your privacy, but if that is what it takes to gain consumer attention they will do it. Money has always been a major influence behind most companies’ actions, and in a world where attention spans are short and people have tunnel vision, it is becoming a more difficult task to acquire it. Companies need every advantage they can get to beat the competition to ensure their business stays afloat.
Stein, Joel. “Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You.” Time. Time inc. 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2015
Spiliopoulou, Myra. “Web Usage Mining for Web Site Evaluation.” *Communications of the ACM*. Volume 43. Issue 8 (2000): 128-134. Print