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Can I trust Google's local and retargeting ads?

     
4:32 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Take a site about widgets that used to get ads from widget sellers, widget makers, etc. Now, I visit that site I'm more likely to see some kind of less relevant local ad or a retargeting ad from some site I've visited recently.

I presume that Google wants to make money as much as the site owner and would attempt to deliver ads that maximize revenue, but do you think that's the case?

Example: Lately, I've been seeing a lot of ads across many sites for a web hosting company whose site I've visited lately. (These are clearly retargeted, as hosting is wildly off-topic for the sites.) I'm a customer of that firm, I don't need to click on their ad to learn about them, and (in short) those ads are a complete waste for the site owners.

Now I assume that I'm the exception, and that spread over hundreds of surfers who visited that host's site the ads WILL generate profitable clicks. But somehow I think the old widget ads would do better.
4:48 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just search for IBA on this very forum! [google.com] and I think you'll find a lot of info on your question.
5:33 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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That's the big problem I see with interest based ads. How can Google know if the person sitting at the computer now is the same person who was there a day earlier, or even 10 minutes earlier? How can Google know that there's still interest in a topic, even if it is the same person? If an order was placed, chances are interest is now zero, the product has been purchased.

I visited a corporate web site once because I was told someone I once knew was working there. I just wanted to see what the company did, as I hadn't heard of it before. I searched Bing for the company, clicked the link and the website answered my question in about 10 seconds. My interest in that company ended.

I was surprised to start seeing ads for that company on other sites I visited, however. I had never seen them before. It seemed strange that they were now popping up, as the corporate site didn't have advertising on it.

Someone here at WebmasterWorld suggested I check to see if that corporate site used Google Analytics. So, I went back and viewed the source, and they were indeed using Analytics. Question answered. Google Analytics was telling AdSense that my computer or IP or whatever was interested in that company.

After my second visit to the corporate site, the ads increased. I continued to see ads for about three weeks afterward. So, from my point of view, since my level of interest was zero, all those ad impressions were wasted on me. If that happens very often, Google is wasting a lot of impressions due to its interest based policy. I was seeing them on my own site, and there's not much to connect the two, as they are very different topics.

In my opinion, the interest based ads should have stopped after a day or two. Three weeks was way too long, and really got annoying as I felt like Big Brother was watching every time one appeared.
5:45 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Pretty much my experience, AndyA. Now, Google should be able to interpret the data, and even if 20% of the people have zero ongoing interest, the other 80% will generate valuable clicks. It's just annoying to visit sites of topical interest and see a lot of local Groupon ads or stuff that I browsed for last week.

If you get a specialty magazine, most of the ads are geared to people interested in that specialty. Those ads increase the value of the magazine for most readers. Websites, IMO, are similar.
6:23 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It ain't just Google doing it. There are some advertisers playing with remarketing who probably have no idea what they're doing.
6:37 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you get a specialty magazine, most of the ads are geared to people interested in that specialty. Those ads increase the value of the magazine for most readers. Websites, IMO, are similar.


Exactly why I opt my site out of Interest Based Ads (IBA) so visitors see niche related ads.

Of course you have to opt yourself out of IBA as well otherwise you'll see them when you surf other sites.
 

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