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Wild Abandon with Perfect Precision

While agency life will often demand a fast-paced working style, sometimes it's important to set aside a few more minutes to prevent typos and ensure a stronger finished product.

Morgan Hughley

When Likes Disappear

While eliminating the Like feature on social media may be a step in the right direction for everyday individual use, companies will now need to reevaluate their social media marketing plans.

Morgan Hughley

Boston Conferences Every Marketer Needs to Attend

When immersed in client work and glued to a desk for long periods of time, it’s possible to become stuck in a pattern of delivering projects that may meet client expectations, but lack the true innovation needed to push the work to the next level. Sometimes it’s not only beneficial to step away from the office for a moment but absolutely necessary in order to refresh the mind and deliver better ideas. Conferences and tradeshows are great opportunities to leave your desk for a few days while still remaining engaged with the marketing world.

Morgan Hughley

The Multitasking Myth (Part One)

I can’t multitask. Well… neither can you.

Dan Zarzycki

Access Your Data Archive

It’s no surprise that the real conglomerate of our personal data is Google. But did you know you can download the data archive? Learn how to access your data.

Morgan Hughley

Influence the Right Way

Companies are relying more and more on influencers to spearhead conversations with their audiences in order to spark interest in their brands. However, in order for an influencer marketing campaign to be successful, it has to be planned out correctly.

Morgan Hughley

How to Go Off the Grid for Two Weeks. For Real.

In modern agency life, it seems impossible to take a vacation without taking work with you, but it can be done. Here’s how I did it.

Meghan Gardner

Flexbox

As a back-end developer, it can be hard to style a web page. CSS is not very intuitive and around every corner there’s a “gotcha.” Flexbox is a fairly new CSS technology that once mastered, can be much easier to use.

Dan Sudenfield

How to (Successfully) Lead Your First Tech Meetup

There are a number of reasons you might want to start a technology meetup. In order to narrow the focus a bit, we’re going to approach this from the standpoint that you work for (or run) a company that is interested in the idea of hosting a meetup.

Brendan Butts

How Do You Fix a $75,000 Mistake?

As a new marketing manager for a practice group within a consulting firm, I had a lot to learn. And a few of those things, I had to learn the hard way, like making an error that cost the company many tens of thousands of dollars.

Meghan Gardner

Access Your Data Archive

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I caught sight of an ad that seemed to know me... pretty well. Sandwiched between life updates and the occasional dog photo was a sponsored post of a pink sweatshirt, decorated with the photoshopped phrase, “Life took me to Massachusetts, but I’ll always be a Georgia girl” across it.

Sweatshirt that reads “Life took me to Massachusetts, but I’ll always be a Georgia girl”

As somebody who moved from Atlanta to Boston over a year ago, that’s definitely one targeted ad. I took a screenshot and sent it to a friend, who immediately texted back, “That’s so creepy!!!”

It seemed a little creepy to me too. But, fair enough - I do have my hometown and current city listed on my Facebook page, so that information isn’t hard to find. And honestly, working in the digital marketing world, I understand the effectiveness of targeted ads that are done right. According to Wired, smart and transparent targeted ads will drive clicks and increase conversion rates, while ads that are viewed as “creepy” will actually steer consumers away from clicking. For example, ads that give recommendations based on the items you previously ordered do extremely well. Pink hoodies with badly photoshopped phrases about where you live may still make an impact, but it will likely be a bad one.

Still, the post did make me wonder exactly how much of my information is being tracked, so I investigated a little further. In Facebook’s settings, under the “Ad” tab, there’s an option to view the information you’re sharing with advertisers, as well as the type of ads that are being targeted to you. Here, Facebook gives you the option to hide these ads or opt out of sharing your information. Also located in the settings, “Your Facebook Information,” will give you insight into the data Facebook is supposedly keeping on you, with the option to opt out here as well. Message history, search history, location tracking and facial recognition are all some of the settings you can browse through and manage.

Screenshot of “Your Facebook Information”

And Facebook is just the starting place. It’s no surprise that the real conglomerate of our personal data is Google. In the same week I saw that Facebook post, I also came across a Reddit thread that asked, “People who downloaded their Google data and went through it, what were the most unsettling things you found out they had stored on you?” I never even realized I could access the data that Google was collecting, but after seeing that post I immediately wanted to know more.

Google lists really simple directions to follow in order to download the data they’ve accumulated on you. All you need to do is log in with your Google account and provide an email address for the archived data to be sent to. Google warns that the data download could take hours or even days to complete, but mine only took 7 minutes.

So what was in my Google archive? Basically, the download consisted of Excel spreadsheets that outlined my entire internet use. Some of the data I expected, and then there were other parts of the archive that were either unsettling or totally random. The breakdown of my data included:

  • My browsing history
  • All Google and image searches made, marked with my location at the time of search
  • Every YouTube video I’ve looked for or watched
  • A list of every flight I’ve booked – detailed down to the terminal and gate number
  • Every ad I’ve clicked on or item I’ve purchased online since 2009
  • Every address I’ve searched for in Google maps
  • An accurate log of my location for the past few years, including my home address
  • Photos uploaded to Google Drive, including ones I thought were deleted
  • Voice recordings (this section was empty for me, but not for those that use Google’s voice to text function)
  • An Excel sheet dedicated solely to the address of a zoo I volunteered at once and never went back to
  • A blog post I wrote for a World History school project in the 10th grade
  • A pizza order that I placed on September 25, 2017 at 7:50PM

That’s a whole lot of information to keep track of. It’s eye-opening, and a bit scary, to understand just how many details Google knows about my life, especially when I don’t remember the details myself. After wading through the mass of information, I decided to take a visit to Google’s Activity Controls, where you can update the settings to control the information Google saves. Though by no means a save-all, it is definitely the starting point to establishing more data security.

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