I was looking through the business section of the Lakeland Ledger, and I came across an article on dated 1/06/02 "Women Out Shop Men On Web For First Time". I wondered how they went about getting their information. I had purchased online this Christmas, and no one asked me my race, sex, or other information while I was shopping. What if my name was Chris, Jamie or Pat? Who keeps track of this, and who wants to know? Does the credit card company, the web site, or the business give this information out? How do they get it?.
The first question that came to mind was who keeps track of online purchases? The answer is market research groups. Some like the Pew Research Center are nonprofit, independent groups sponsored by philanthropists. Others like Dun and Bradstreet, Comscore, and Controlled Data Corp. are for profit million-dollar companies.
The next questions are why are these companies tracking this, and for whom are they getting this information? Companies like the PRC give their information free to students, political leaders, journalists, and public interest organizations. Tracking the Internets effect on the economy is just one of many projects for them. How often, how much, and why people buy online is purely an area of interest. For Dun and Bradstreet or Comscore, however, there is a charge for most of their services. Their primary objective is to collect market research for businesses on and off line, add servers, content providers, government agencies, and financial institutions. They offer demographic group of the site for the web site owner. They offer advice to businesses based on what people buy, how often they buy, what sites they buy from, and how the consumer responds to ads and marketing (www.comscore.com). .
Finally, how do they get this information? Phone surveys and polling online users are two of the most popular ways the PRC gathers its data (www.pewinternet.