Who Do They Think You Are? A User's Guide to Understanding Online Data

Who Do They Think You Are? A User's Guide to Understanding Online Data

Have you ever received an ad and thought, wow that is so relevant it’s creepy! Or perhaps you had the opposite experience where you received an ad that made absolutely no sense and you had no idea why you were being shown a certain a message. In this blog post we’ll be discussing how you can check and see what the largest data aggregators online Google, Facebook, and Oracle think you are based on your online behaviors.


Google has nearly 40% market share of the U.S. ad market and has a number of data touch-points from search history, Gmail linkages, and Android mappings to figure out who you are and what you’re interested in. To put it simply Google knows what’s on your mind and what you’re likely thinking next.

To determine what Google thinks about who you are, click: https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated. This will load the ad setting profile of who Google thinks you are.

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Some information may be very accurate, while other portions may not be (As a 18-34 male writing this I can confidently say I am not a 18-44 female).


With nearly 2.3 Billion users, data collection and leakage scandals, and nearly 20% of the U.S. ad market let’s move into the walled garden of Facebook. To check to see what big brother Zuckerberg thinks of you in this environment click: https://www.facebook.com/your_information/. Scroll down to the “Information About You” portion and click “Expand All” in the upper right hand corner.

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Once you’re on this page you can find out what Facebook thinks you’re interested in and who they think you are online.

Oracle (Third Party Data)

Outside of Google and Facebook, the next data online collection category comes from third party data aggregators. These companies have relationships with websites that track your online behaviors which then classify you into various personas (i.e. Affluent Urban Luxury Shopper, Outdoor Enthusiast, or NBA fan), household income brackets, age, location, and marital status. The largest of these third party data companies is Oracle, and the most scaled data product of theirs is called Blue Kai.

To determine what Oracle and other third party companies think about who you are on the web click: https://datacloudoptout.oracle.com/registry/ from here you’ll be given a general sense of what Oracle and other third party data companies think you are based on your web behaviors. Again you’ll likely receive a blend of accurate and inaccurate information which answers our initial question of, why am I seeing this ad?

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Creeped Out Yet?

Now you have a better sense of how your online behavior is categorized by Google, Facebook, and third-parties — as well as why you’re seeing particular ads that may or may not be relevant to you.


To opt out or change your data collection settings follow these steps to edit your current records.

Step 1: Clear your cookies: http://www.allaboutcookies.org/manage-cookies/clear-cookies-installed.html (taking this step will also eliminate first party data collection cookies, which is largely used for retargeting campaigns).

Step 2: Opt-out of all third party data collection: http://optout.aboutads.info/?c=2&lang=EN.

Step 3: Edit Facebook data collection rules: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/?section_id=interests#interests

Sick of seeing ads online? Research ad blockers that are best for you: https://www.tomsguide.com/us/pictures-story/565-best-adblockers-privacy-extensions.html


Previous Blog Entries:

The State of In-house Programmatic

Reverse Engineering Digital Advertising Success

Understanding Ad Fraud

Balancing Quality with the Fallacy of Efficiency

Measuring Awareness Campaigns