Friday, 13 March 2009

Adsense and Interest-Based Advertising

I suppose it's time I got back to work.

The catalyst for this is today's earth-shattering news that Google have just launched what they refer to as 'interest-based advertising'. It sounds like good old profiling to me but what do I know.

As an Adsense user I received an email from Google this morning letting me know that I should update my Privacy Policy to reflect the changes Google have made to Adsense. This is what it said :-

We're writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising, which will require you to review and make any necessary changes to your site's privacy policies. You'll also see some new options on your Account Settings page.

Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to display ads based on a user's previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. "sports enthusiast"). To develop interest categories, we will recognise the types of web pages that users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Centre at

As a result of this announcement, your privacy policy will now need to reflect the use of interest-based advertising. Please review the information at to ensure that your site's privacy policies are up-to-date and make any necessary changes by 8 April 2009. Because publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we're unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language.

For more information about interest-based advertising, you can also visit the Inside AdSense Blog at

OK, so like a lot of you I was familiar with the old concept of Adsense, that being that you put the code for the ads on your page, it read your page, especially the title, description, and content tags as well as the text content and throw up an ad that was meant to be relevant to the page thus increasing the CTR. So far so good. Now Google are saying that the ads they are going to throw up will also be based on other pages that your visitor has been too which have also had Adsense ads on them to build up a profile of the visitor. The link above includes this explanation :-

The DoubleClick DART cookie is used by Google in the ads served on publisher websites displaying AdSense for content ads. When users visit an AdSense publisher's website and either view or click an ad, a cookie may be dropped on that end user's browser. The data gathered from these cookies will be used to help AdSense publishers serve and manage the ads on their site(s) and across the web more effectively.

Sounds OK, but up till now you could basically see the sort of ads that were appearing on your site now with the ads being linked to the visitors profile what you see and what one of your visitors see may be totally different which means you have relinquish some control over your sites. At the end of the day if it increases the CTR advertisers will love and if it doesn't they won't.

I'm going to watch developments closely.