I was intrigued by this anecdote from Stephen Baker’s new book The Numerati:
“What is it about romantic-movie lovers?” Morgan asks, as we sit in his New York office on a darkening summer afternoon. The advertising entrepreneur is flush with details about our ramblings online. He can trace the patterns of our migrations, as if we were swallows or humpback whales, while we move from site to site. Recently he’s become intrigued by the people who click most often on an ad for car rentals. Among them, the largest group had paid a visit to online obituary listings. That makes sense, he says, over the patter of rain against the windows. “Someone dies, so you fly to the funeral and rent a car.” But it’s the second-largest group that has Morgan scratching his head. Romantic-movie lovers. For some reason Morgan can’t fathom, loads of them seem drawn to a banner ad for Alamo Rent A Car.
The reason is later revealed:
I ask him about the correlation he told me about earlier, the one between romantic-movie fans and Alamo Rent A Car. It takes a moment for him to recall it. “Oh yeah. They were off the charts.” Did his researchers, I ask, ever come up with an explanation for it. He nods. “It had to do with weekends. It was Alamo ads promoting “escapes” that attracted the attention of these web surfers, he says. The romantic-movie fans booked leisure rentals, largely for weekend getaways. Perhaps they wanted to act out the kind of scenes that drew them to the cinema. Banners for weekday rentals apparently left them cold.”