Google’s e-Harmony for Business – Stalking to Talking in 30 days!

If you believe the dating site ads, computers are better than ever at bringing like-minded individuals together.

Since people seem to open up to the Google search portal more than close friends and family around them, it just makes sense (to Google at least) to utilize that data to help target banner ads on the aptly named Adsense network, their ad display network which reportedly reaches over 90% of all commercial sites. This is what is helping Google become the matchmaker for business.

Google is routinely sharing search data and browser history with those who will pay to put an ad in front of the right consumers. Before behavioural retargeting, banner ad placement operated similarly to the print model, i.e. – car ads on car pages or ads on related content. Nowadays you could be away from your hometown, looking at a political blog and an ad will appear based on what you searched for yesterday or last week, regardless of content being viewed at the moment or where you are (actually where your computer/device is).

Notice How Online Advertisers Seem to Know What You are Interested in Lately?

Online ads appear based on what your computer was used to search for, I raise this subtle distinction since Google is actually tracking your computer or node on the web. All nodes on the web are identified by a unique address made up of four octets of hexadecimal numbers, also known as an IP or internet protocol address. Google tracks this address and like the police, they would need a court order to get the name of the person to whom that address belongs from their ISP or internet services provider. That is probably going to be the loophole Google’s lawyers are trying to jump through in some recent cases. Some people have complained (to lawyers) that after researching their medical conditions online, they began seeing ads for specific remedies and drugs for their supposedly “confidential” afflictions. Medical information is one of the very touchy points in all of this retargeting. Google’s privacy policy states that retargeted ads it sells on its own search engine, and across the Internet through its advertising networks, will not use information such as health, race, religion, or sexual orientation to target ads. No they target keywords, be they related to these touchy areas or not.

Small Business Perspective – So Effective it Should be Illegal?

We have all heard the phrase “oh that is so good it should be illegal!” In the case of behavioural retargeting that applies to some of these sensitive areas according to some recent rulings against Google. The point that should be made from a small business perspective is that this new age ad delivery is so effective it is rewriting privacy laws and it is something every small business should consider participating in to retain their market’s mindshare. Personally I have seen businesses flourish on retargeted display ads where their competition has not considered it yet. It is competitive in text ads because most are doing it now. It is not so competitive in the retargeting, because not so many are up to speed yet. If you are the first in your vertical then you can get a lot of excellent traffic that you basically didn’t have to bid for and always placing in position 1. Imagine putting your ad persistently in front of everyone who went to your competitors’ sites, it is possible now.

Author: Jeff Cyr – Search-Social-PR Specialist
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