Fueling the AdTech Machine: Google Analytics and the Commodification of Personal Data

Digital Marketing technology diagram

This paper concerns the role of online analytics in facilitating the rise of today's ubiquitous programmatic advertising, referred to herein as "AdTech." Most criticism of AdTech has focused on online tracking which captures user data, and digital advertising which exploits it for commercial purposes. Almost entirely lost in the discussion is the role of analytics platforms, which process personal data and make it actionable for targeted advertising. I argue that the role of analytics is key to the rise of AdTech, and has not been given the critical attention it deserves. I wrote this paper while pursuing my research as a PhD student at the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences. It has not been peer-reviewed or published elsewhere, and I’m posting it here to invite comments, criticism, and suggestions. Please feel free to send me email at jackb at illinois dot edu, or twitter message me @ jackbrighton.