Who’s your average bitcoin user? Chances are he’s young, male, geeky and smart.
That’s according to demographic research from Quantcast, which measures the habits of digital media audiences online.
Quantcast tracks 100 million websites around the world that have been tagged by their owners. It tracks behavior over time using cookies, and infers demographic information from traffic sources based on the websites visited.
In research released last week, Quantcast examined the behavior of people who had spent bitcoins on websites. It turned out that a whopping 88 percent of those found collecting bitcoins were male, and 57 percent of them were under 34. Only 3 percent were age 65 or over.
A word cloud developed by the firm analyzed search terms among bitcoin users. Not surprisingly, it showed they had a lot of interest in technology-related terms: “Raspberry Pi” and “open source” enjoyed the highest rankings. Other popular terms included “exchange rate,” “making money” and “graphics card” … along with “Ron Paul,” “Rand Paul,” “3d printer,” “Google Glass,” “Sim City” and “Crysis 3.”
Online bitcoin users also tend to hail from universities, especially those heavily focused on engineering, such as the Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California – Berkeley, Imperial College London and Canada’s University of Waterloo.
Of all the websites Quantcast tracks, though, there’s at least one it doesn’t. That’s Silk Road, the site that many bitcoin users go to for illicit, anonymous purchases.
“You need to use a Tor browser to access Silk Road,” said company spokesperson Patrick Hornung, “and so I don’t think that we’re about to track that.” (A Tor browser is an anonymizing browser to shield the identity of a website’s visitor.)