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Ironic / humorous "targeting" of AdSense

Share some goofy or amusing examples here

     
3:21 am on Jun 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As I noted in another thread, I've been mostly impressed with Google's targeting in its new AdSense program.

However, I've unsurprisingly noticed a few amusing quirks here and there... understandable, since even fine 'artificial intelligence' isn't infallible.

For instance, on one page in which I detail various anti-smoking initiatives and express my strong distaste for the cigarette industry, AdSense has inserted ads targeted to -- you guessed it -- smokers.

On a page about blogging (philosophies, techniques, etc.) AdSense has consistently inserted all ads for... coffee products?! What, bloggers stay up late or somethin'?

Do note that I'm just playfully tweaking AdSense here. I do definitely like the program overall, and realize that its algorithms will be fine-tuned over time, or perhaps allow for Webmaster-specified overrides.

In the meantime, go ahead and post any of your goofy or amusing examples that you've noted from your pages :)

3:31 am on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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A while ago I had ads appearing for Mirrors and Glass, on my download page, which is a list of download mirrors ;)
8:31 am on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ah, okay, and a new one.

I decided to try adding AdSense to the [clean] "Relationships" area of my discussion forum.

I was puzzled when I noticed that every page had ads for ".cc domain registration" offers. Huh? Why would people who are talking about friendships and dating and communication issues be interested in registering a domain?!

Then I realized what was going on. The URL for this area of my site begins with mysite.com/cc/individual_discussion_pages.htm with "cc" being the name of one directory because this area of my site is the "Conversation Corner."

So it appears as though AdSense is giving significant -- and perhaps too significant -- weight to the name of directories. Hmm.

6:06 pm on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed the directory thing too, but fortunately my /dirs/ are pretty targeted to the theme of my site(s).
6:14 pm on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Even I am seeing pretty funny off-topic ads. It would be nice to have a special meta tag for Google Adsense, wherin webmasters can specify the most appropriate keyword(s) which they would like to se for the pages.

Moreover, there would be no need to worry about spam since a webmaster who would be spamming this meta tag would be a fool. In fact, more targetted the ad, more the CTR.

9:09 pm on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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on one page in which I detail various anti-smoking initiatives and express my strong distaste for the cigarette industry, AdSense has inserted ads targeted to -- you guessed it -- smokers

This could be a very serious issue for sites that are "anti-something" (use your imagination) and the ads on their pages are actually promoting the something that the site is railing against. Procede with caution.

9:34 pm on June 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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You have a good point, although Google's guidelines likely mitigate this threat at least to a significant degree (e.g., no pornography, no hate stuff).
1:04 am on June 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I was getting ads for creationists on my evolution index page, ouch! That was the only off-putting example I could find in subject pages ranging from anthropology to zoology, though, and I fixed it by simply not having ads on the evolution page.
1:26 am on June 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Danny, rather than change the look of your site and forgo possible revenue, why not just use the AdSense tools to filter out the creationist sites?
6:14 am on June 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Adam: there are way too many of them... at least five or six now, and no doubt more will crop up over time. Filtering them is just more trouble than it's worth.
10:39 pm on June 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Okay, some of the absolute funniest / most unexpected ad "targeting" is happening on the front page of my blog, which is where I'm first trying AdSense. 95% of my blog pages are categorized (e.g., blog.mysite.com/travel/, and blog.mysite.com/photography/) and AdSense does better with those pages.

But the front page of my blog -- as with most blogs -- is simply a reverse chronological listing of entries.

A recent entry -- in which I've commented on how U.S. Senator Hatch's Web site was accidentally sending traffic to a porn site -- has resulted in some particularly unexpected AdSense targeting. Here's a quote from the entry:

Up until a day or two ago, his Web site was linking to a former-Utah-Tourist page that had been "porn-napped" to trumpet "Huge Natural" attractions of a different sort.

Well, perhaps you can guess what happened. Despite having just posted this on Friday, and despite other entries on this same page talking about affiliate marketing and other serious issues, AdSense is now sending me all Utah Personals advertisements! :O The fact that I (h2) titled the Hatch entry: "Senator Hatch favors 'booby traps' of all sorts" probably sealed the fate.

Booby. Huge. Porn-napping. former-Utah-Tourist page. Hmm... if I were an AdSense bot, I guess I'd come up with Utah Personals, too :D

11:55 pm on June 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Doh.

AdSense is only appropriate on pages that have a clear single topic. That's why I haven't used it on any of my index pages, or anywhere else I can see a contex-analysis robot haveing problems.

2:37 am on June 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Sure, my blog's front page is an extreme example.

But I've occasionally noticed similarly weird results on topic-oriented sections of my blog (travel, politics, etc.)

Let's face it... even pages with the most narrowly-focused themese are bound to still pose occasional problems for the Google bots.

Take, for instance, The Onion -- a clearly humor/satire-oriented site -- would be showing e-mail software and webmaster-focused ads (according to the see-what-ads-this-site-would-show feature here [google.blogspace.com]).

8:31 am on June 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Not quite as funny as some of the examples here, but for the life of me I can't persuade the Adsense 'bot to accept that my page about email forwarding is about *email* forwarding. It keeps on insisting on offering up ads about snail-mail forwarding services i.e. mailbox services in various towns around the world. I've already blacklisted a dozen such advertisers, but there seems to be an endless supply since there's still no sign of anything email-related!
12:34 am on June 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ack! On the Photography section of my page, I'm now getting four ads for Ansel Adams stuff.

I can only imagine it's because I have the words Photo, Art, and -- of course -- my name (Adam) on the page <sigh>

12:46 am on June 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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AdSense is only appropriate on pages that have a clear single topic. That's why I haven't used it on any of my index pages, or anywhere else I can see a contex-analysis robot haveing problems.

On my European travel-planning site, Google has a little trouble figuring out what AdSense ads to display. Sometimes they're about luggage (because I have a blurb for a packing article this week), and sometimes they're about rail passes or other travel-related services. But that's okay, because they're related to my site's overall theme even if they aren't as well-targeted as a luggage ad in a packing article or a railpass ad in an article on rail travel. So far, I haven't had any complaints. I might be less pleased if my site were just called "John Doe's Blog" or "The News Site" or something else that didn't convey a theme, let alone a clear single topic.

9:05 pm on July 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I had ads running on a CGI page I was developing, and for a while it was spitting out Perl errors. AdSense responded by displaying ads for books and tutorials on Perl. Gee, thanks!
9:20 pm on July 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My favourite quirky ads so far were actually pretty good for relevance, but the combination struck me as funny. The content was a news story about a retail store having problems with fleas. Adsense was showing ads for dresses and pest control services.
3:56 pm on July 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The AdSense program is obviously an evolving one. Google will soon need to get smarter in matching ads to content - combined with some exclusion code - to eliminate problems with its advertisers.

Specifically, there was an article about a couple kids that suffocated in an old refrigerator. And yes, there were AdWords along the side from refrigerator manufacturers.....

 

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