Today [Google is] launching "interest-based" advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest…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.
Imagine my initial reaction to reading the above announcement from Google? It was something along the lines of: "They’ve finally done it! Google has finally become big brother and will now follow us all around the web!"
Oh how the adrenaline was flowing. I was half-way through mentally writing this post when Google went and spoiled everything by doing the right thing–it offered full customization and opt-out of its new "interest" ads. They smugly explained:
- Transparency – We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google’s ad serving.
- Choice – We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
- Control – You can always opt out of the advertising cookie for the AdSense partner network here. To make sure that your opt-out decision is respected (and isn’t deleted if you clear the cookies from your browser), we have designed a plug-in for your browser that maintains your opt-out choice.
What’s an internet marketing critic supposed to do now?
Well, for one thing, I plan on remaining opted-in for the new interest-ads. Why not? If Google can figure out my current interests and serve better ads, then maybe I’ll click on them more often. Of course, the tough part will be matching up my transient interests. Just because I viewed new camping gear on one site doesn’t mean that I want to see adds for tents plastered all over my favorite technology blogs.
But Andy, I hear you cry, shouldn’t Google make this an opt-in process? Shouldn’t we be concerned about our every move being tracked on the internet? My response? I’m sorry to tell you that the web is no longer a haven of obscurity. You should assume that all web sites track your every move, that web analysts are able to pinpoint your location, eating habits, and TV-watching preferences, and you should also assume that every time you open your browser, you’re agreeing to all of this.
What do you think of Google’s new "interest" ads? Let ‘em rip in the comments below!