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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Google's New Form of Advertising: Tracking the Sites We Visit

Google today launched "interest-based" advertising. What this nicely coined term means, is that the ads you see will be based on your browing history. I browse a lot for website programming and help with my LG-Dare phone, so I would see ads related to these on most of the websites that I visit, even if some of these sites do not contain LG-Dare or website programming content. With this new form of advertising, there is the option to select your favorite catagories of ads (i.e, sports) or the categories you don't want to see. Currently "interest-based" advertising is in beta and is present on Google's partner sites and YouTube.  
To deal with the issue of privacy (web surfing activities being watched) , Google listed the following on their blog:
  • Transparency - We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google's ad serving.
  • Choice - We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
  • Control - You can always opt out of the advertising cookie for the AdSense partner network here. To make sure that your opt-out decision is respected (and isn't deleted if you clear the cookies from your browser), we have designed a plug-in for your browser that maintains your opt-out choice.
It's good that they offer the above options, but a lot of the web surfers out there won't be aware of these and will be "watched" without knowing. Personally, I'm not a fan of this advertising, I just hate the idea of our activities being monitored and I think we should stay with the current model of ads being based on the content of the page. I like the good ol' days.