Google has had an impact upon online advertisements with Google Adwords and Google Adsense but now they are taking it one step further. By introducing behavioural ads targeting, Google will be able to determine which ads are best suited to each person’s interests and then deliver ads that are more relevant and therefore more interesting for each individual surfer. Whilst many argue the theory behind behavioural ads targeting sounds clever, some view this latest development in online advertising with a hint of caution. It could be argued Google’s “interest-based advertising” (they refuse to use the term behavioural) will make adverts more interesting for the web surfer. But how do they gain this information? What does it mean for your privacy rights? And what does it mean for advertisiers?
Rather than targeting ads to websites with similar and relevant content, as seen with Google Adwords, data of an individual’s web browsing history is taken and if this data indicated, for example, that the individual regularly searched for information about sports then Google will target you with sports related adverts. Whilst Adsense matches adverts with related content on websites, this new technology could result with interest-based ads appearing on websites that have nothing to do with sports.
How does Google gain this Information?
With the use of electronic markers, otherwise known as cookies, on users’ web browsers, Google will be able to track visited websites, and as a result, will be able to put related adverts on the sites you visit.
It is no surprise that people are concerned at the thought of Google acquiring data about their search habits, however, Google have anticipated this worry by providing users with the option of specifying their own areas of interest at http://www.google.com/ads/preferences As well as specifying areas of interest it is also possible to opt out of the system altogether.
Anticipated Results of Interest-Based Ads
Despite the option to opt-out of the interest-based ads system Google argue that they are trying to make ads more interesting, and I would be inclined to agree. From a personal point of view, if as a result of Google’s newly acquired technology, I end up clicking more ads then I am being provided a better ads service. I have come to terms with the fact that ads are here to stay, and considering there is no other option than to put up with them, in my opinion, it’s better to have ads displayed that interest me rather than ads I’m never likely to click on.
Advertisers are likely to receive more click-throughs and more sales, websites will generate more revenue from these adverts, and Google will generate more income through the higher click-through rates. This latest innovative step in online advertisement is another reminder that Google is the leading search engine and whilst we wait to see if any of the other big search engines can close the gap it seems that it’s a case of waiting to see what Google comes up with next.