Phorm, a UK company that partnered with BT to run secret trials to target ads based on usage data, was roasted by the media with article titles like Phorm’s All-Seeing Parasite Cookie.
Google, which has long stayed away from behavioral targeting due to privacy (and negative publicity) concerns, announced they are jumping into the behavioral ad targeting market:
Google will use data it collects about what Web sites users visit and what it knows about the content of those sites to sort its massive audience of users into groups such as hockey fans or travel enthusiasts. The data won't be drawn from users' search queries, but from text files known as cookies that Google installs on the Web browsers of users who visit pages where it serves ads.
DoubleClick, AdSense, Google Toolbar, Gmail, Youtube, Blogger, Google Groups, Google Checkout, Google Chrome, Google Analytics...there are lots of ways to track you, even if you do not want to be tracked. Google will allow users to opt out of such targeting, with yet another cookie, but if you clear cookies then you are back in the matrix again.
And while Google claims they are not using search queries in their current behavioral targing, Danny Sullivan wrote:
Google confirmed in a session I moderated at the Omniture Summit last month that they have tested behaviorial targeted ads using past search history data. Again, that doesn’t seem to be part of this release, but it could come in the future.
As discovered during early Google research titled The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine:
we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.
Indeed. Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, spoke out against behavioral targeting:
"People use the web in a crisis, when wondering whether they have a sexually transmitted disease, or cancer, when wondering if they are homosexual and whether to talk about it … to discuss political views."
"The power of this information is so great that the commercial incentive for companies or individuals to misuse it will be huge," he said. "It is absolutely essential to have absolute clarity that it is illegal."
If Google continues down this path unquestioned, then in due time you may not be able to get health insurance because of a web page you viewed or a keyword you trusted Google enough to search for. Better luck next life!
Gain a Competitive Advantage Today
Your top competitors have been investing into their marketing strategy for years.
Now you can know exactly where they rank, pick off their best keywords, and track new opportunities as they emerge.
Explore the ranking profile of your competitors in Google and Bing today using SEMrush.
Enter a competing URL below to quickly gain access to their organic & paid search performance history - for free.
See where they rank & beat them!
- Comprehensive competitive data: research performance across organic search, AdWords, Bing ads, video, display ads, and more.
- Compare Across Channels: use someone's AdWords strategy to drive your SEO growth, or use their SEO strategy to invest in paid search.
- Global footprint: Tracks Google results for 120+ million keywords in many languages across 28 markets
- Historical data: since 2009, before Panda and Penguin existed, so you can look for historical penalties and other potential ranking issues.
- Risk-free: Free trial & low price.