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Affinity, Intent, & The War For Marketing Dollars

Every day people conduct billions of searches on Google, and in the process they create what John Battelle famously called a ‘database of intentions:’ A massive record of the world’s desires that helps the company generate tens of billions of dollars in advertising revenue. But Facebook, perhaps the only other company that has collected as much data as Google, has had nowhere near the same luck turning its data into dollars. Why? Because unlike Google’s ‘database of intentions,’ Facebook has unwittingly built a ‘database of affinity:' A massive record of what people like rather than what they intend to do.

The database of affinity is potentially as valuable as the database of intentions — but neither Facebook nor marketers have managed to unlock or measure that value. The question is: Who can find the hidden value in this database of affinity, and how will this change marketing?

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Can affinity data ever be as valuable to marketers as intention data?
  2. How can Facebook make this data more actionable for marketers?
  3. How can we better understand the value this data creates?
  4. Can Google effectively collect affinity data? Can Facebook generate intention data?
  5. How can marketers and agencies win the race to unlock the potential of affinity?



Nate Elliott, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research

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