The discussion over Google’s latest move into behavioral ad targeting is all over TechMeme. Basically what this means is that Google will start selling users (or more specifically, clusters of users, like football fans for example) in addition to words:
Today we are launching “interest-based” advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest – say sports, gardening, cars, pets – with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to show you more relevant text and display ads. (…)
So if you visit an online sports store, you may later be shown ads on other websites offering you a discount on running shoes during that store’s upcoming sale.
Google’ is not the first to embrace behavioral targeting as other companies (including Google’s own DoubleClick) were already offering advertisers these features, but it is certainly the biggest.
Behavioral targeting on Google massive network of sites (just think of anyone who’s using Google Analytics, which is pretty much everyone) is certainly a game changing event to the online advertising industry.
The responses online (and ones I usually get talking to people about the topic as we’re doing stuff in this area at Nuconomy) range from simple skepticism of behavioral targeting effectiveness (like Google’s own Matt Cutts…) to Big Brother concerns.
To the latter group, concerned with privacy and worried about its actions online being tracked I have to say – NEWS FLASH! you don’t have privacy on the internet… everything you do is already being tracked, analyzed and can be linked back to you even if stored anonymously (ever heard of Thelma Arnold?), the only question is what do you get out of it?
I hope that with behavioral targeted ads I will see less irrelevant ads offering me low mortgages and seduction courses and more ads geared towards tech gear, maybe even making online ads actually useful (can’t remember the last time I clicked an ad. with time I just learned to automatically ignore these ad banners…). But I think change is not going to hit just the advertising market…
Google’s move can (hopefully) marks the beginning of a personal internet era where sites will customize their entire layout and content based on the preferences, or habits of the browsing users.
My favorite news site will know I care about tech and biz. and never read sports news and will modify its homepage layout based on these preferences, the recommendation widget on my blog will show post recommendation based on the viewers’ recent browsing history rather than based on traffic, and so on…
Behavioral targeting opens the door on a conceptual change, not just in advertising…