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AdSense ads matching browsing habits, not page content

10:00 pm on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've been using AdSense on a few of my sites ever since the program began, but have really been out of the loop for the past few years with all of this on autopilot. So my question may be easily answered by those that are more involved recently that I've been.

Google reads the content of my pages, then serves up ads that match the content of the page.

But on a few sites (like MySpace), I've noticed something a bit different. It seems that the ads have nothing to do with the content, but instead are related to other sites that I've been to recently or other topics. For instance, I may have been viewing a site recently that's about widgets, and another about thingamajigs. Then I get an email via MySpace, and while reading it I see ads for websites selling widgets and thingamajigs, which is completely unrelated to the email I'm reading.

How is this working? Do regular publishers have access to this, or is it something that certain sites like MySpace have negotiated with Google? It would seem to be a great way to display ads on pages which are private and only accessible once a user logs in.

3:24 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this has anything to do with the involvement of DoubleClick in AdSense.

Are there DoubleClick ads on the pages you viewed before you saw the widget and thingamajig ads later? Maybe DoubleClick is tracking you.

4:37 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There are quite a few ads on the page, but I don't see anything that's identifying itself as DoubleClick, nor do I see anything "doubleclick" in the source code.

I'm wondering if Google is tracking me. I have the following cookies in my browser that belong to Google (googleadservices.com and google.com):


I'm sure I can probably clear out all of my cookies, then go specifically to this page and see which cookies reappear. But I was hoping someone might already know what's going on.

6:17 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google had been doing that for quite a while. They offer adverts based on the history of your browser. I assume they are looking for themes and think thats what your interest is.

There are other factors that influence ad content as well.

6:20 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, this is not new, I've seen this for many months, maybe a year or more. They know a lot about your browsing habits ;-)
3:46 pm on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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And I'm fine with all of that (I could kill my cookies if I wanted to do something about it).

What I'm wondering is how this works from a publisher standpoint. Do you get to choose between content-targeted ads and history-based ads? Is this something that Google does on its own with all AdSense ads (my sites still show content-based ads only)? Is this something available only to a select few publishers?

If publishers have an option, what experiences have you seen if you choose this option? Higher, lower, or the same click-thrus?


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