We have overwhelming evidence that suggests Google is utilizing the clickstream data collected from our client's Adwords retargeting pixels (i.e. "Audience) to serve competing ads on the Adsense network.
Take into consideration the following scenario...
1) Our client sells widgets. We have Google's retargeting code on our client's website along with a retargeting campaign setup in Adwords to build OUR target audience.
2) Our retargeting campaign is currently paused.
3) From a clean browser session, I visit our client website looking for brown widgets. The Google Adwords retargeting pixel fires, and I am added to MY CLIENT'S target "audience".
4) Immediately after visiting our client website, I visit an "Adsense" website that is totally 100% NOT relevant to brown widgets. On this website, I miraculously see numerous text ads and banner ads for brown widgets from all of our client's competitors.
We've tested this scenario with several client websites, and in each instance Google serves ads based on data that was clearly gathered from our client's pixel that was placed for the sole intention of our Adwords campaign and nobody else's.
When attending SES in Toronto, I had the opportunity to speak with a Google representative from their retargeting division. I specifically asked about this concern, and she vehemently denied they use our pixel data for any other purpose than to serve our own ads.
What do you think? Is this happening to you? Is there anything in Google's fine print that allows them to do this?