Analytics doesn’t know you’re cool

Cool Wayfarers Google analytics graph

You may not be aware of this, but every time you visit a website, the owner knows about it.  They know what city you’re in, what web browser you’re using and how many seconds you spent on each page. They don’t know your name though, so don’t worry. They see this visitor data using web analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Webtrends. If it’s a big website, every thousand visits from someone like you mean they can charge advertisers more. The job performance of the person running the site is also probably measured by how many people visit the site.

There is one thing they don’t know about you when they look at the web stats. They don’t know if

you’re cool.

You see, some fashion website might receive 5000 standard suburban visitors in a week. But I’m sure it would be more valuable for them and their advertisers to know that they received 500 visitors that are influential hip people.

At this point you might be thinking ‘Hold on, how do you know someone is cool, isn’t it all relative and subjective?’

Yes it is mostly, but we can use Henrik Vejlgaard’s theory of coolness, which sees your position on the adoption curve as an indication of how cool you are. If you’re on the left side, if you’re an innovator or early adopter, that means you’re part of a select cluster of people that likes something way before everyone else ultimately does.

Early adopter curve


The problem for software developers right now is, how can a code determine if you are an early adopter, which characteristics should it look out for?

At first I thought it would be by tracking the preferences you state on social media: liking a new band’s Facebook page or using a hip hairstyle hashtag on Instagram. But that route may prove too difficult. Google might not be able to collect the data from a variety of social media accounts and associate it with a person’s IP address without their consent.

Then I realised there’s a much easier way to determine if you’re cool: your browsing history. Google already knows who the people are visiting a webpage and when they went there through a Google search. They can therefore also see who visited a page way before the majority arrived. If a person on average visits webpages before they ultimately become very popular, that’s an indication that that person is cool.

Naturally, it would have to control for phenomena like links that go viral. If you watched a viral video way before everyone else, it probably is just an indication that you spend a lot of time on the internet, not necessarily that you’re cool.

A much better indication of cool browsing behaviour would be if you visited the Wikipedia page of a retro style item a season before it became a trend, or if you searched for the name of a restaurant that a month later would only accept reservations.

Google has this data already; it just needs to connect it to visitor analytics. It could be quite valuable to know how influential the readers of your website are.



Thanks to @DevakshaV for the insight that stated preferences are less useful indicators of coolness than knowing how early someone showed interest in an eventual trend.

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