It Takes Less Time Than You’d Think for the Internet to Size Up What You’re Worth
It takes less than 30 milliseconds to determine a web-user’s value to advertisers, apparently, which is either a marvel of engineering or a foreboding of a Kafkaesque future in which our lives are guided by all-knowing machines whose processes are beyond comprehension. Or both.
Or anyway, that’s the way The New York Times spins its dive into real-time bidding for digital advertising, an emerging industry in which practitioners dump a given web-user’s data into an algorithm, and the algorithm pumps out an approximation of what said user is worth to a given advertiser—all in the time it takes a web page to load.
Viewed through the prism of the Rubicon Project, an ad-sales platform that says 97 percent of U.S. internet users interact with its system each month, the process works something like this:
Most sites … compile data about their own visitors through member registration or by placing bits…
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