November 18, 2013
Facebook Plans to Track Your Cursor Movements
The most popular social networking site, Facebook, already has a huge amount of user data to begin with. Even so, the company wants to know more about its users. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is testing a brand new technology that would allow it follow user’s mouse movements on the social networking site. With the new cursor tracking technology the company can figure out where we click, where we pause, where we hover, and for how long. The biggest driving force behind implementing the cursor tracking technology is to track how long a user’s cursor hovers over revenue generating ads.
Ken Rudin, the analytics chief for Facebook, revealed to The Wall Street Journal, “The social network may start collecting data on minute user interactions with its content, such as how long a user’s cursor hovers over a certain part of its website, or whether a user’s News Feed is visible at a given moment on the screen of his or her mobile phone.” Facebook may start collecting data based on your interactions with the content of the website. As mentioned earlier, it will collect information such as how long your cursor hovers over a particular part of its website or whether your news feed is visible at a given moment on your mobile phone’s screen. Then store all this captured information in a data analytics warehouse and make sure that you are getting targeted ads related to the stuff you hover your cursor the most. Basically, Facebook collects two kinds of data – demographic and behavioral. The demographic data include information beyond the network like where you live or went to school. The behavioral data that is captured real time on your network like your “Friends” on Facebook or “Likes”. The ongoing test will mainly focus on the behavioral data that is collected. “Facebook should know in the coming months whether incorporating the new data collection makes sense for a slew of uses, be it product development or more precise targeting of ads”, Rudin said.
Facebook is not the only company planning to track users based on their cursor movement. Shutterstock Inc, a marketplace for digital images, records everything that its user does on the website. It uses open source Hadoop distributed file systems to track and analyze user data such as where do they place their cursor or how long do they hover over a particular section on the site before making a purchase. Facebook also uses a modified version of Hadoop to manage large volumes of data. The data that is in the analytics of the warehouse is separate from the company’s user data and has not been disclosed yet. The marketers can use this data for targeted advertising, provided the data become accessible to them. However this new data mining experiment of Facebook is still in its testing phase and Facebook is still evaluating how it can be valuable to the company. Rudin himself pointed out that collection of massive amounts of data would not help Facebook unless it can figure out how to make use of it.
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