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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Google AdSense Starts Behavioral Targeting

Google is starting behavioral for AdSense. In a blog post they say:

Today we are launching “interest-based” advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest – say sports, gardening, cars, pets – with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to show you more relevant text and display ads. (...)

So if you visit an online sports store, you may later be shown ads on other websites offering you a discount on running shoes during that store’s upcoming sale.

I don’t like this stuff, so I opted out by installing a Google Firefox add-on called Advertising Cookie Opt-out from Google’s ad preferences page. Google’s own Matt Cutts in 2007 argued:

I personally consider AdSense targeting stronger than behavioral targeting. Why? Because behavioral targeting might learn that I like TiVo or Terry Pratchett, but I don’t want to see TiVo ads everywhere I surf on the web. But suppose someone sends me a link to a lolcat page and I go there. At the moment I’m on the lolcat page, you know I’m interested in that topic at that moment, because I chose to go there. So AdSense, by targeting to the content of a page, is more likely to show relevant ads based on my interests at that instant. Just my opinion.

Google in their post admits “This kind of tailored advertising does raise questions about user choice and privacy” but opines that these are “questions the whole online ad industry has a responsibility to answer.”

[Via Ionut.]


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