As we’ve been anticipating for a while now, Google today launched their new Ad Personalization. It’s a limited program for the time being. They’re calling them “interest based ads” meaning that when you do a search on Google or one of their sites for say, Golf, then you’ll be cookied as being interested in Golf. The problem with this approach is that you may have done the search on Golf because you were buying a gift for your husband or father who is a golfer. It’s not really one of your interests but Google won’t differentiate. So after that, no matter what page you’re on, or what you’re looking for, you’ll see ads for Golf.
Google describes the new offering here. Google has done something smart however and has set up an Ads Preferences Manager so you can see what they’ve got your interests set at and either edit or opt out of their interest based ads program. Since I do searches for my clients on a wide range of topics, I’ve opted out.
The biggest concern that I’ve seen about this new program is not so much for the end users, but from the publishers who have AdWords on their sites. They are very concerned that they no longer control the ads that appear on their sites. Potentially, each person who visits their site will see very different ads. The concern is that some of the interest based ads could be innapropriate for their sites and many are calling for a way to opt out of the program as a publisher.
And finally, here’s a story that addresses the privacy concerns. I think the most interesting paragraph is toward the end of this story where they talk about the programs flawed implementation of their opt-out. It’s done by cookies which are easily deleted by anti-spyware programs. The author also says, “The cookie opt-out doesn’t work, it’s a bad idea. People who care about their privacy enough to opt out also are the same people who delete their cookies.”