DP14466 The Economics of Social Data
A data intermediary pays consumers for information about their preferences and sells the information so acquired to firms that use it to tailor their products and prices. The social dimension of the individual data---whereby an individual's data are predictive of the behavior of others---generates a data externality that reduces the intermediary's cost of acquiring information. We derive the intermediary's optimal data policy and show that it preserves the privacy of the consumers' identities while providing precise information about market demand to the firms. This enables the intermediary to capture the entire value of information as the number of consumers grows large.