In a recent NYTimes article called "To Aim Ads, Web Is Keeping Closer Eye on You", reporter Louise Story published a number of stats which put in the public eye some of the reasons behind Microsoft's attempts to buy Yahoo, the world's biggest internet property.
The figures, compiled by Comscore for the New York Times, provide with the first estimate of the amount of data consumers transmit to internet companies either through advertising networks or directly, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Yahoo came far ahead of every other companies when it came to consumer data gathering; under the heading "potential data collection events per person that visits the company's site or ad network", Yahoo scores 2520, more than twice the amount of collection events of second-placed Fox Interactive Media.
Yahoo also far outweighs its competitors when it came to other important metrics like display ad views on site or ad network impressions.
A hypothetical Microsoft-Yahoo merger would provide the former with a formidable tool to scrutinise the masses pouring through the virtual gates of their combined online properties.
More importantly though, it would allow Microsoft to close the gap between itself and Google.