Connecting data to the real world - The next sexy job?

At last week's Royal Statistical Society (RSS) conference Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, gave a panel talk about 'Statistics at Google'. Could he get a better audience than the RSS?

Hal talked about his career in academia and at Google. He reminded us of the days when Google was still a small start up with no real idea about how they could actually generate revenue. At that time Eric Schmidt asked him to 'take a look' at advertising because 'it might make us a little money'. Thus, Hal got involved in Google's ad auctions.

Hal Varian at the Royal Statistical Society conference 2012

Another projects Hal talked about was predicting the present. Predicting the present, or 'nowcasting', is about finding correlations between events. The idea is to forecast economic behaviour, which in return can help to answer when to run certain ads. He gave the example of comparing the search requests for 'vodka' (peaking Saturdays) with 'hangover' (peaking Sundays) using Google Insight.

Read more »