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Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage by Kaiser Fung

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Why Do Marketers Send You Mixed Messages?

The mass retailer Target, with the famed red bull’s-eye logo, made the front page of New York Times Magazine in 2012 with an eye-catching—to others, appalling—application of customer targeting. The journalist Charles Duhigg describes the working of a statistical model that predicts if a female customer is in the second trimester of pregnancy:

Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements, and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s ...

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