Blind data or blind date? Get the Valentine’s Day edge.


Our industry is built on data. We spend our lives extracting and extrapolating it. We’re experts at sifting and siphoning to reach the people we need with the message we want. In fact, only last week I wrote about a new algorithm that purports to predict the next ‘Gangnam Style’ viral.

So far, so obvious. But what about applying these skills to our personal lives?

If you’re single you’ve probably already got ‘up close and personal’ with a mega algorithm. Don’t worry, it was probably called Soul Searchers or, or the like.

Because that’s what they are. Giant algorithms. Which are only as good as the data that’s inputed. And, given that people tend to project stylised more interesting versions of themselves online, it’s no wonder that the outputs aren’t always Mr or Miss Right.

It’s also why a data analyst called Amy Webb decided to take matters into her own hands in ‘Data, a love story’

She turned the whole game on its head by creating her own dating algorithm and then using it to exploit the dating sites. In a good way, of course.

She talks about ‘reverse engineering’ her profile. At its simplest, this meant coming up with archetypes of her ideal men, posing as them on dating sites and then cataloguing the initial online interactions with women; picking up tips on how the most popular competition presented themselves e.g. leading with hobbies, not trying to be funny in print (because it would come across as sarcasm) and leaving a time lag of at least 23 hours before emailing back.

Watch Amy’s TED talk

This was used to create a super profile. Not a false one, just the best articulation of who she was for that particular medium. And, lo and behold, she went on to find her ideal man!

The moral of the story? Don’t give up on finding the ‘one’ and, no matter how big and complex your algorithm, it’s only as good as the data you put in it.

  • John Wallinger

    This is exactly what people who have worked in integrated always believed