Data Mining and How to Use it to Your Advantage.

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Data Mining and how to use it to your advantage

In the last years, there were so many scandals concerning the internet and smartphone trafficking that there’s probably not a single person that hasn’t heard about them. People are all worked up because the free services track their searches and site visits – they do Data Mining.

Why do companies do Data Mining?

Internet companies need to employ people to keep it running. Social media needs to have people that stop hackers from taking over your timeline and keep bullies from terrorizing. 

These are businesses, and if they are not charging us for using their service, they have to earn money somehow.

This is where advertising comes in. In the early days of internet advertising, the ads were not targeted. Most of the time, they were porn ads, infomercial ads, and pop-up ads. 

Search engines and better programming have brought us more valuable and user-specific ads

Can we dodge Data Mining?

You are free to be upset that companies are mining your data. You are even free to be worried that they are selling your data, but the simple fact is that they are. 

The only way out is to go off the grid. Cash only, no bank accounts, don’t register your warranties, no store loyalty cards, no free email, and by all means, only search for things on a public computer. 

The alternative is that you accept the Information Age’s reality and make it work for you. As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

How can I make Data Mining work to my advantage?

Simply let the web crawlers work for you. Are you in search of a new computer, tablet, or smartphone? Do a few simple searches with the specifications you need and wait.

Eventually, the internet ads will pop up with the stores selling them, with the prices for how much they sell them and any possible deals. 

When you search for a deal, you often get old deals from months ago. If you watch your ads, you will get current offers for what you are looking for or similar items.

For instance, if you search for an android tablet, the search results will bring you reviews for android tablets going back months. Many of these are regularly updated, but it is difficult to determine if and when

If you watch your ads, you will see ads for Dell, Nexus, Galaxy, and some lesser-known brands. Pay attention, and you will find the best deal for what you are looking for. 

Try to search for an adventure. If you are a Groupon subscriber, you will get emails from Groupon for that adventure or a related adventure. 

If you are thinking about learning to crochet, do a simple search for instructions or videos. When you get good at it, you will see ads for patterns. 

The examples go on and on, so let’s talk about tricks for those that may fascinate you the most.

Using Facebook ads to your advantage.

Let’s talk about tricks for using Facebook ads. If you are getting ads for things you aren’t interested in, in the upper right corner of the “suggested post” or ad, you will see an arrow, so to speak, click it and select hide all ads from … [insert a name of brand here]. 

What’s more, if you search for a specific product, search for it in the search bar, click photos of similar products in your feed, like them.

This process will help Facebook get better placement. I know you are thinking to yourself, why would I help Facebook?

Simply because it helps you, that’s why. Instead of garbage ads you don’t want to see, you are helping Facebook learn what is interesting for you. The simple fact is the ads are there and will be there, so they may as well work for you.

Using Twitter to your advantage.

Twitter works similarly to Facebook – it uses your searches, follows, and retweets to help determine your ads. You can dismiss an ad to tell Twitter you are not interested in that ad. 

Again, use these to work for you. If you are a regular Twitter user, do searches based on what you are looking for.

Using Pinterest to your advantage.

Pinterest is a little more complicated. Their promoted pins activity is not as old as other platforms. If you are an active Pinterest user, you probably already know how to attract the appropriate information – Pin items of your interest. 

Search Pinterest for items of interest and let the program work for you. With Pinterest, you will have to be a little more active in your search and activities to make it work. With a little bit of patience, it will pay off.

Using Loyalty cards to your advantage.

Shopper’s loyalty cards are another area you can use data mining to help you.

Grocery stores like Kroger/Smiths give you discounts on gas for your shopping, and they track your purchases to send you coupons specific to your purchases. Office stores like Staples give you credit back for your purchases monthly if you meet the minimum. 

Use those to your advantage, let the stores pay you for your information. 

Finally, most of us have found it challenging to keep essential receipts in order, but many of these loyalty cards will email you a copy of your receipt. No need to search your purse, bag, or pile of junk mail for that receipt for the office supplies you want to write off on your taxes, say yes to the email receipt question, and store it on your computer or in your email until you need it.

What we try to say is, don’t be upset that your searches are being tracked or that the store you frequent is tracking your purchases. It is a fact of life that isn’t likely to change, so use it to your advantage. Give it a try. 

Search for something you would not usually be interested in. See what ads appear in your News Feed, Twitter feed, or in the banners at the top of the webpage you are looking at. You just might discover a new tool to make your life a little easier.

If you enjoyed our article, check out our other blog posts, like the one about work ergonomy or tips for increasing effectiveness.

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