Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stanford University have found that computers are able to determine our personality traits better than our closest friends and family. In the study, computers used Facebook Likes to determine an individual’s psychological traits.

Dr Youyou Wu, of Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre said: “In the future, computers could be able to infer our psychological traits and react accordingly, leading to the emergence of emotionally-intelligent and socially skilled machines.”

This discovery may be startling to some people, but I see this as an opportunity for technology and advertisers to better serve consumers.

When browsing the web, we’ve all seen banners off to the side of the screen that show an ad from a recently visited website or online store. Most of the time it’s a product that you had considered buying. Usually this ad is more of an annoyance or invasion of privacy, rather than convenient or valuable. This is because the algorithms and machine learning technology behind this ad retargeting are still in the infancy phase.

Currently, ad targeting is based on search history, cookies, and broad affinity audience groupings, which creates broad impersonal ads loosely based on online behavior. Creating and targeting psychological traits based on Facebook Likes is a good start, but in the future, advertisers will have much more robust, personalized profiles available. Imagine a world where individuals can actually sell their personal profile to advertisers, allowing advertisers to create better ads using machine learning to make highly accurate guesses about what ads a consumer wants to see at a certain time.

As these technologies develop, we will be able to create highly personalized ads that are targeted to individuals, instead of groups. Smarter targeting will allow advertisers to create helpful ads that individuals want to see, and even rely on day-to-day. Instead of serving customers our ads, our ads can serve our customers.



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