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What is the price on my head?
July 24, 2011 7:00 PM   Subscribe

How much am I worth to facebook (or G+, or even MySpace for that matter)?

As blue_beetle's famous comment states, I am the product being sold. How much am I worth to the various social networking sites?

I suppose I could look up the market cap of each company and divide by the user base for a rough estimate of value, but I was wondering about other estimates, such as how many advertiser dollars are directed toward me per year on the various social networking sites.

Also, are some users more valuable to FB/G+ than others? Do advertisers pay more to advertise to selected subgroups, such as college graduates, or people who "like" a particular band?
posted by fings to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Too many variables to compute:

How active you are determines your value
posted by Murray M at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook's ad buying process is interesting.

You can select your target market by a large number of variables -- age, gender, location, networks (may not still be possible given the de-emphasis of networks), education levels, majors, interests, etc -- and then you basically put a bid on either clicks from that groups or impressions from that group. The mix of targets that you choose will result in highly variable costs, from a few cents per click up to multiple dollars per click, depending on how many other people are targeting people within the same subsets.

You can get a sense of the targeting options on the Help page.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:17 PM on July 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Incalculably small; practically nothing.
posted by smoke at 7:21 PM on July 24, 2011


look up the market cap of each company and divide by the user base

If you want to know how much money they are making off an average user, you'd want to take the annual revenue (not the market cap) and divide it by the user base.

That seems pretty straightforward.
posted by alms at 7:29 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to this infographic, you are worth $5 a year to Facebook.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do advertisers pay more to advertise to selected subgroups

More or less, yes. Depends on the ad system and so on. But in auction-based systems (AdSense, etc) ads are going to compete for impressions based on targeting. So a highly-targeted interest/website/demographic will have higher ad prices.

Also, ads can be charged in various ways. Some are based on impressions (views, known as CPM) -- meaning that the amount the advertiser pays (and how much the ad network and site owner receive) is based on the number of people who just see the ad (like loading a site's homepage and seeing an ad). Others are based on clicks (so only the number of people who click on the ad counts towards how much the advertiser pays) or even conversions (how many people end up engaging on the site they click through -- buying something, signing up, etc).

There's no easy way to tell as an end-user how the ad you're seeing is charged.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2011


If you want to know how much money they are making off an average user, you'd want to take the annual revenue (not the market cap) and divide it by the user base.

OK, so, Facebook's revenue last year was about $2 billion. (From Wikipedia's chart.)

Facebook claims to have 750 million "active users."

(These numbers are constantly going up, so it would be better to use the number of active users at the end of last year.)

2 billion divided by 750 million is 2.66. So using alms's formula, you're worth around $2.66.
posted by John Cohen at 7:45 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your value is determined by how active you are, and how many connections you have, and how active they are, and probably the extent to which your activity encourages their activity.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:05 PM on July 24, 2011


"You'll notice that none of the social networks have subscription options. Nobody says "pay me $100/yr and I'll keep all your data private and you can have an ad-free experience." My hypothesis is that this is because your data is worth more to Google, Facebook, and Twitter than you can justify paying for it"
posted by milkrate at 8:15 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are "invaluable" to them. If they had to pay you anything, even 1 cent, for your participation then their business model would not be profitable.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:27 PM on July 24, 2011


you might be interested in collusion, a firefox extension that shows you what kind of data is amassed across sites you visit while logged in. they have a demo on their website.
posted by krautland at 5:43 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This article gives an idea of the average value per user for several online businesses, including the ones you ask about. Your particular value isn't possible to calculate.
posted by dgran at 6:39 AM on July 25, 2011


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