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This Digital Life: So, could Ukip infiltrate Miley Cyrus' messages?

If you're looking for something to while away the hours at the office, one that still makes it look like you're legitimately working, then YouGov Profile is pretty unbeatable, writes Katie Wright.

Type in any person, company or thing and the YouGov Profiler tells you, with the help of swishy animated infographics, a whole lot about its fans or customers - age, location, hobbies, political views, even favourite foods and films.

Fans of Apple, for instance, are mostly 30-something women who live in London and work in media. They like cycling, eating halloumi and watching The Great British Bake Off.

As a 30-year-old, female, London-based, halloumi-loving, Bake Off-aholic journalist who cycles to work, I have to agree that's a pretty accurate assessment.

Having said that, YouGov admits the web-based app isn't meant to show the 'typical' person in any segment. "If it did, most groups would look very similar, and you wouldn't learn a lot about the specifics of a particular thing," says YouGov Online director Freddie Sayers.

Instead, the pollsters compare each group to the natural 'comparison' set. So fans of TV series Breaking Bad are weighed against general TV watchers.

Some of the results are still pretty obvious, so it makes you wonder how corporations could use the data to their advantage.

Since Russell Brand fans' top four favourite foods are vegetarian, should Tesco start handing out free veggie samples outside the comedian's gigs? Or, because Miley Cyrus fans' tend to hold right-wing views, could Ukip infiltrate Miley's messageboard and start recruiting members?

Well, not necessarily. The accuracy of the stats varies considerably, because the sample sizes do, too, from 36 (for Pukka tea) to nearly 17,000 (Tesco).

As such, the more popular or mainstream a brand, the weaker the preferences stated by the sample, while strong favourites from a small group are more likely to be coincidental.

But maybe that's because this, the free version, is essentially a shop window designed to lure businesses to cough up for something called the YouGov Cube, a mammoth 'vault' of data waiting to be mined for money-making purposes.

It won't offer a route to commercial gain for everyone, but if you're looking for something to while away the hours at the office, one that still makes it look like you're legitimately working, then YouGov Profile is pretty unbeatable.

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