Google launches interest based advertising

12 03 2009

Google has announced the beta launch of  ‘interest based’ advertising on their partner sites and YouTube. Will this lead to better advertising ?

Interest based advertising is where advertising content is targeted at internet users based on current and past web surfing history. Typically this is achieved by using ‘cookies’, which are small files stored on the user’s computer, which contain browsing history data. This method of serving advertisements differs to Google’s traditional ‘keyword’ or ‘content’ based advertising, which relies on the keywords or website content to target advertising.

Google believes that:

…..there is real value to seeing ads about the things that interest you. If, for example, you love adventure travel and therefore visit adventure travel sites, Google could show you more ads for activities like hiking trips to Patagonia or African safaris.

Criticisms of online advertising sometimes arise from poor quality leads due to the deficiencies in reaching an advertisers target audience. Google’s new interest based advertising may lead to higher quality leads for advertisers and more relevant advertisements for web surfers.

No sooner than Google’s announcement, many people have come out criticising interest based advertising as a threat to privacy, as it relies on tracking the websites an end user visits.

Google claims that it has taken 3 important measures to ensure user choice and privacy, these are:

  • Transparency – Users will able to click on advertisement labels to obtain more information about how advertisements are service and what information is used. Google also proposes to expand this in the coming year;
  • Choice – Users will have access to the  Ads Preferences Manager tool which lets them “view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
  • Control – Users will be able to opt out of interest based advertising. Google have take some significant steps to ensure this by designing a plug in for web browsers to maintain the users choice.

We think Google’s interest based advertising may prove to give advertisers more qualified and better quality leads, while users will now see advertisements which are more relevant to their interests – resulting in a better user experience. Only time will tell, but at least Google has thought through the choice and privacy issues, and it appears to us as IT Lawyers, that they have implemented a sensible and effective process to ensure this.

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