Simpson’s Paradox in Behavioral Data — current behavioral data is highly heterogeneous: it is collected from subgroups that vary widely in size and behavior. Heterogeneity is evident in practically all social data sets and can be easily recognized by its hallmark, the long-tailed distribution. The prevalence of some trait in these systems, whether the number of followers in an online social network, or the number of words used in an email, can vary by many orders of magnitude, making it difficult to compare users with small values of the trait to those with large values. As shown in this paper, heterogeneity can dramatically distort conclusions of analysis.
The Economics of Attention Markets — Based on conservative estimates, in 2016 a typical American adult spent about 4.9 hours of a day focused mainly on consuming content from these media properties. That amounted to about 437 billion hours for all adults. Advertisers paid roughly $199 billion that year to media businesses to deliver messages to those consumers during those hours. That is the market for attention. Consumers supply time—their attention—to the market in return for content that entertains or informs them. Advertisers demand attention so they can deliver messages that will increase their sales and profits. Attention platforms—ad-supported media businesses—broker the connections between consumers and advertisers. This paper provides a primer on the economics of this market.
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