• March 11, 2009

    Google Introduces Behavioral Targeting to AdWords

    Google today announced the inclusion of user behavioral targeting in the distribution of AdWords advertising via the AdSense program. The feature, named Interest-Based Advertising, will send ads to Internet users based on “interests” they have shown while online. What this means is Google is actively tracking every move its users make while online and then delivering advertisements tailored directly to a user’s personal surfing habits. For example, I tend to consult newspapers from the various cities I’ve lived in over the years each morning. I also use the Internet to book flights several times a year. Put those to pieces of information together and a reasonable observer (such as Google) might assume I am interested in finding information about hotels, restaurants and transportation options in those cities. Similarly, if I obsessively check financial information sites such as finance.yahoo.com and thestar.com/business, I would likely begin to receive AdWords advertising regarding financial services in Toronto Ontario or ads for stocks I researched at Yahoo. Advertisers have long salivated at the ability to target consumers based on individual traits. Demographic profiling was one step. Direct behavioral targeting is quite another. It will be interesting to see how Google users react to the news Google is watching everything the do when online. Several other search players do the same though no one else is using such a depth of information to deliver advertisements. Google does give users the option to opt-out of the ad-delivery system. According to the Official Google 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.