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Google AdSense Forum

Very Personalised Ads
Is this something new? Or have I been under a rock?

 4:31 am on Apr 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm currently working on my personal site and I just happen to read some of the ads.

They are very off-topic for my site. But they are exactly my interests.

You see, I'm a private pilot, so I browse alot of related sites, and discuss this using my GMail account. I don't run any sites even closly related to this field..

Yet today, I'm getting ads for...

"Commercial Pilot"
"Helicopter Pilot"

Most of the other ads showing are related to the content, there is just one personalised ad per block.

Are these ads been generated from my browsing history? Or from GMail?

Seems to be only effecting pages where there is a smaller amount of content.

I'm not complaining, especially if I earn a couple of dollars from this technology. Is this new? Or is this something that's been around for a while and I've never noticed?



 10:19 am on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Very interesting! I haven't seen this myself and haven't heard any news, but I wouldn't be surprised if Google was starting to implement "behavioral targeting" - seems to be the future of advertising. And between Search and Gmail and a bunch of other programs, Google is certainly building up quite a bank of information on people's interests!

I would think, however, that that would need to be something you (as a web user) can opt out of

[edited by: jatar_k at 11:47 am (utc) on April 26, 2007]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]


 10:31 am on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of the blogs I read regularly had a similar posting with a twist.

The blog author has his high speed internet and cable tv from the same provider. He said that he has noticed that ads on his tv seem to be reflecting things he searched for earlier in the day.

For example, if he searched for something odd like wet widgets in wyoming, he might see ads on his tv for something related to that when he doesn't remember seeing those ads previously.

With digital cable, it would probably be fairly easy to grab the search traffic . He didn't say if he used the cable/broadband provider's search page. If so, then I can see how this could easily be done.



 11:02 am on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

atreides9999, do you surf with the Google Toolbar, and/or do you "sign in" and/or use Google's personalized homepage?


 4:28 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)


What Marcia asked. Check to see if you have the new "web history" turned on.

If so, it so it sounds like they are already using that information as I suspected they would.


 5:58 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

It is interesting, it is about to happen sooner than later. MSN has accepted doing it, Google might start using it more often then.

Do you see different ads (theme wise) while logged in and logged out of google accounts? Google shares the same .google.com cookies acrosss all the applications.


 6:14 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)


Is this targeting hinted at in or related to a puzzle that's on Matt Cutts blog today?


 7:57 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've mentioned this phenomenon before. It's something my dad's seen when he looks at one of my sites - he sees ads for his favourite hobby which is not even remotely related to the site topic.

He doesn't use a Google toolbar or web history.


 9:27 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

It would be an interesting concept. A visitor lands on your site, and in your Google Ads, is displayed ads for their favorite topics. It seems like it would be a win-win-win-win for all parties involved.


 9:45 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

there is just one personalised ad per block

Might be an experiment, imagine the implications to an AdSense publisher and the fluctuations in EPC, some might enjoy the elusive double digit dollars click with this.


 11:57 am on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I see similar things. I have two sites, lets say one is about, umm, rope climbing and the other is about, says, hairdryers.
Rope Climbing is older and *since I started the hairdryer site* (October, IIRC) I sometimes see ads for hairdryers on the rope climbing site. Never before then.
There is no overlap between the two topics, beyond everyone probably wants a hair dryer at some point.

I have wondered if this is personalisation, or mistargeting due to a common adsense account.
No way to know.


 6:11 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I get lots of stuff telling me to get a job [resume/job hunting sites]... they must know that I'm self-employed!

I am usually signed in under my Google account, but I don't use G toolbar or web history - that doesn't mean that G isn't tracking your surfing habits! (AFAIK just because you have opted out of the 'web history' or other features, doesn't mean G aren't collecting and analyzing the data for their own purposes.)


 6:25 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

This sounds like what Topix.net has been doing for a long time:


Such "behavioral targeting" should be good for publishers who don't have niche topics and audiences.


 6:35 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I block ads that I think will detract from the visitor's experience of my site. If the cr*p ads are based on visitor related parameters rather than content then blocking becomes pretty pointless.


 8:00 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

@ EFV - possibly, but if the site is about growing orchids, it's not a really a good look if the ads are for drag racing, even if the visitor is a drag racing fan. Surely the point of Adsense is to match ads to the site topic, not the visitor's most-surfed topic.

@ piatkow - it'd be like playing psychic whack-a-mole, trying to pre-guess the visitor's hobby. ;)


 1:30 am on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

EFV - possibly, but if the site is about growing orchids, it's not a really a good look if the ads are for drag racing, even if the visitor is a drag racing fan. Surely the point of Adsense is to match ads to the site topic, not the visitor's most-surfed topic.

I agree, but in some cases--newspaper sites, for example)--many ads will be badly targeted, or will be related to topics that aren't likely to stimulate clicks and sales. (Imaging an ad for hair products on a story about John Edwards getting a $400 haircut.) In such cases, behavioral targeting may work better than keyword targeting.

I agree that behavorial targeting is likely to be less necessary (and to look weirder) on a site in a clearly defined niche such as growing orchids--although, even then, behavorially-targeted ads on a related topic, such as gardening in general or home greenhouses, might be successful.

To quote an old expression, "The devil is in the details."


 7:32 am on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I really think this is the behavioral targeting from Matt's blog post. Google guesses at your interests instead of targeting adsense based on page content. But this probably only happens when you're more likely to click on those behaviorally targeted ads rather than on content targeted ads.

So...higher average CTR, and more money for Google.

I think personalization will continue to grow, becoming a major Google technological advantage until the other search engines catch up. Google news and search results will probably become increasingly dynamic as the Google engineers factor behavioral targeting into all their products.


 3:11 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

This technology was discussed back in oct 2005


I guess they are implementing it now, I have noticed similar ads too. Freaky and slightly consipracy-like...


 8:59 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Creepy, creepy. Like pulling puppet strings. Easily avoided for those like us who are marketing-literate, but pity the poor urchins who aren't. No, you'll never pay off your credit card, never ever. And you know why? Because we know just how to tempt you into spending more.

I try to encourage rational purchasing and discourage emotional purchasing on my site. That's part of the ethos of my site. I'm not so committed to the principle that I'll ditch Adsense if it introduces Behavioural Targeting wholesale, but it doesn't have to be so black and white, does it?

All we need is a button on the AdSense control panel which asks: "Allow behavioural targeting on my site: Yes / No." Then we can do some A/B testing (if desired) and make our own minds up.

We don't have to sacrifice everything in pursuit of higher profits, do we?

On a less principled and more practical note, I think I'd rather have ads on my site which are more relevant to the site topic, even if they attract less clicks. Otherwise I'm just having my brand undermined, no?


 9:43 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Malachite: "if the site is about growing orchids, it's not a really a good look if the ads are for drag racing, even if the visitor is a drag racing fan."

And if every site the drag racing fan visits shows him ads about drag racing (probably quite often the exact same ones), how long will he continue to pay attention to those ads?


 11:24 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

atreides9999, do you surf with the Google Toolbar, and/or do you "sign in" and/or use Google's personalized homepage?

No google toolbar. Yes, personalised Homepage.


 11:29 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

My first suspicion was Gmail actually...

Anyways its interesting... To be honest I dont mind at all. Ads for me are far less annoying if they are interesting...

My qustion to all is... What do you think we will earn from these links on our page? Will it help? I hope all my visitors have a strong interest in credit cards and home loans, because my main topic is very niche and very low paying....


 5:43 pm on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

@ arieng

Sure, visitors suffer from ad blindness, but I doubt a drag racing fan would be particularly interested in ads about orchids [although I could be wrong ;)] and vice-versa.

It was an extreme example to illustrate the point. :)


 5:52 pm on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sure, visitors suffer from ad blindness, but I doubt a drag racing fan would be particularly interested in ads about orchids [although I could be wrong ;)] and vice-versa.

That may depend on whether you're talking about a fan of drag racing or a racing fan in drag. :-)

Seriously, though, a drag-racing fan who has clicked on orchid-growing ads in the past--or, better yet, who's converted for an orchid-related advertiser--might be a great prospect for an orchid-growing ad, even on a site that isn't about orchid growing. The principle isn't much different from personalized direct mail, where (for example) the guy who buys an espresso machine from a mail-order kitchenware company may find himself getting catalogs from vendors of coffee beans.

On the whole, though, I'd guess that behavioral targeting's real strength will be in boosting clicks and revenues on general-interest (as opposed to niche) sites.


 6:04 pm on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Google uses this technology in moderation I think it should be okay, but I feel it has the potential to go out of control.

I have this image in my head of a Google user who LOVES the little-known sport of widgetball. He spends most of his time on widgetball sites, and Google knows its his primary passion. Widgetball is not terribly popular and the ad inventory is minimal. Wouldn't it be frustrating if every site he visited displayed the same widgetball ads over and over? Even the most passionate widgetballer would get annoyed.


 6:31 pm on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google suggest that publishers will always display the ads that will yield the best for them - so whether the site-related ads or visitor-related ads appear should depend on the bid prices.

So even widgetballman should occasionally see fooball ads ;)


 9:36 pm on May 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think it sucks, if it's indeed true!
I came in to the forum today to post and ask about seeing tons of ads on my site lately which do not even remotely match those showing up in the Google Adsense Preview Tool and realized this is probably the same issue! I just realized at least half of the ads I was seeing related to old topics I was interested in LAST MONTH.

1. It makes the above mentioned Tool virtually useless.
2. Since I've been noticing it over the last couple months our earnings have dropped precipitously.

It might be useful for generic sites where the best ads available are generic ebay ads and other bottom feeders, but on narrowly targeted sites with high ad competition for high paying terms, just the shot-gun type testing of these 'customer targeted' ads (to test if they 'pay off') can take a major, major toll!
So what if Last week I (or a family member) did a one-time emergency search for a friend about golden retriever illness symptoms, why should I be plastered with ads about pet products for the rest of my life when I don't even have a pet? I'd rather see all the available ads about what I'm searching for here and NOW, not be distracted by something I may once have looked for and be done with! Don't they know enough from their own employees to know that internet users are not the same as couch potato TV watchers and are highly target oriented?
Maybe this is why the adsense optimization report for this and last month emphasize adding more ad units per page, so they can TEST this cr@p.

>>"Google suggest that publishers will always display the ads that will yield the best for them"
This may be all well and good IN THEORY, butthe problem is, as I've noticed in the past (for instance in the case of low paying site targetted ads which defy this theory) it takes a certain period of experimentation by G on your site to determine if those ads will indeed pay off, before they can be compared CPM to CPM with other ads. Guess who feels the impact of that?

[edited by: MikeNoLastName at 9:47 pm (utc) on May 2, 2007]


 12:41 am on May 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

just for grins, try putting adsense ads (using your publisher id) on a server named 'localhost'

(I don't think this is against AdSense TOS)

On the homepage of the server, I see ads in Japanese character set.

All other subpages will display ads relevant to the URL path keywords (which makes sense, since G can't crawl your computer running on 'localhost')

It's all too funny, anyway.


 12:47 am on May 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I think that the observation about personally targeted ads is spot-on - the competitive ad filter is (or will be) just that: a way to block competitor sites. Any other use will be pointless, as you will never be able to filter out anything but the ads *you* see when you visit your site.

Here's a fun experiment: visit your site while logged in to your GMail account - note the ads shown.

Now, fire up another browser (one that has not logged in to a google account, or log out of your Google account - the key thing is to visit your site with a web browser that is devoid of any google cookies) and visit your site - do you see different ads? I do, most of the time I try this. G is *definitely* showing ads targeted at *me* when I visit my site - I see different ads than a generic visitor sees.

Now, how the heck are going to use the puny 200 entry filter How are you even going to know what ads are shown to other visitors of your site? We aren't even talking about geo-targeted ads, either.

Resistance is futile.

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