Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Google Launches "Interest-Based" Advertising But Is It Too Interested In You

Google has laid out plans for what they are calling "interest-based" advertising. A more user targeted approach to advertising which will associate categories of interest — say sports, gardening, cars, pets — with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit frequently and the pages you view.

The new system which was announced today on Google's official blog and its public policy blog, will begin testing as a beta program within several of Google's partner sites and on YouTube soon. But one has to wonder if targeted advertising and tracking of the sites we visit might go to far.

The system does allow people using Google's AdSense network and YouTube to change their advertising preferences and to opt out of being targeted.And Google does note they've built in three features that they hope eleviate some concerns over privacy:

  • 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.
But these features doesn't gop far enough, at least not in the eyes of many consumer protection groups. According to PCworld several privacy advocacy groups including the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), are asking Google to allow users to opt in to behavioral tracking instead of requiring that they opt out.

Christine Chen, a Google spokeswoman, told PCWorld an opt-in model doesn't make business sense and of course how could it. Most consumers wouldn't want to opt into advertising or being tracked online.

Chen says, "We [Google] believe that most users prefer to see more relevant advertising over less relevant advertising," she said. "Offering advertising on an opt-in basis goes against the economic model of the Internet. Consumers prefer to see more relevant advertising, which in turn better fuels many of the free services offered on the Internet. If certain users prefer not to receive interest-based ads, we believe that we give them clear information and tools to make that choice."

The issue as I see it is not whether or not Google is tacking users, we know they are. And its not the issue of relevancy in advertising, we all know how well that has worked in the past. The issue is how much invasion and how much targeting is too much.

As a consumer I wouldn't want someone tracking my every move and then at the end of the day stopping at my house with a bunch of pamplets based on a daily routine, or for that fact my weekly, monthly ect.

Yes there is an opt-out otpion, one that is cookie based. So what good does that do me when I clear cookies on a frequent basis? Google still retains the data and over time and should I forget or just get to lazy to opt out I'll still find myslef a "target" of ads.

As an advertiser and someone that relies on advertising to make a few bucks I can see some benefits. Better ad placement by the AdSense ads on our site might mean a little more revenue for us. Better placement of our ads might mean a little more traffic or traffic that will likely find our site more helpful.

Until I see a few weeks of testing I'm not going to condem it completely. But I will be keeping a close eye on the new system to see how interesting these targeted ads really are!

1 comment:

  1. I try to avoid paid Google advertising if I can help it. I usually stick to social media and video marketing on Adwido and other video advertising networks.


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