Friday, February 14, 2014

Explained: Google Personalized Ads

A Google advertising bot displays advertisement based on your search history and email content. (Similar to search bots which identify words and links in webpages). This works in the same way as a MS Word document and any other program that can find text. For a Word document, when you hit Ctrl+V a script runs which matches a string of characters in the document to the characters you type in the search box. This is how how a Google advertising bot finds text in your email and Google searches. Although the Google bot may seem to be understanding what you are saying, it can't read or understand what you are writing any more than a MS Word document can, it's just a word search tool in this regard.

Once the advertising keywords are found in your search text or email, the corresponding advertisement is then linked to your account.

Why did Google do this?
This generates advertisements which are more relevant to users - benefiting the user (who sees more things they like) and advertiser (who get more clicks). ISPs, websites, and advertising networks all have ways of tracking your online behavior. Cookies are the most direct way of tracking user behavior, although there are many more. What Google also did was allow its users to control the type of information that is shared with advertisers, which you can do right here:

This tool also allows you to block adds you do not want to see. Keep in mind, none of this is new or coming from Google, Google is simply using existing tools which everyone else uses. Google simply gave this personalization, control, and transparency over to users due to their philosophy - don't be evil.

Does Google show you adds based on your location?
Yes, Google, like all other ISPs, websites, and advertising networks, track your location via your IP address. If you own a cell phone, your provider also tracks your location information (as well as any other applications you allow access, such as Facebook).