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Google toys with behavioral targeting

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday July 1, 2008 )

According to the New York Times, Google is starting to make more use of the oodles of data it gains from us and is experimenting with serving up ads connected to different searches we run.

As my Dell notebook is starting to show its age, I’ve been out to the Dell site to see what’s on offer. The old saying goes, “whatever you focus on expands in your awareness” so I’ve been taking more notice of Dell advertising since that trip as it suddenly appears to be on many sites I visit.

This is probably no coincidence in some instances, it’s likely behavioral targeting. A cookie has been dumped on my machine tagging me, and that info has been passed on to the ad networks Dell has hooked up with; they then serve up Dell ads on sites in their publisher network. It’s quite an effective (but expensive) way for a company to keep their brand at the forefront of a consumer’s mind.

Google is reportedly starting to do the same according to this article on NYT – experimenting with making connections between queries of a particular user and then serving up relevant ads. In a search session, we may seemingly jump between topics and be a little vague, but often there’s a common thread. Google’s tinkering is about pulling those threads together to present something that appeals to the user.

I don’t have any real problem with behavioral targeting – if I’m going to look at ads, I’d much rather see ones that are relevant to my current interests.


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