Saturday, July 9, 2011

Q&A 1: Ads

Earlier today I received a question from my mom:
Does your blog advertising do anything like sorting for the interests of the reader? When you first started blogging, most of the ads were camping related but I've started to notice that lately, it is doing more ads for something called Audiodigest which is something I already subscribe to for continuing ed and now all of a sudden, it is showing ads for a clothing company I occasionally shop, and this one started popping up after I accessed their site because of a sale ad I got in the mail. Is it starting to show me ads to click on based on what it thinks I am more likely to be interested in or is it just a coincidence? Just curious.
Actually this is not a coincidence. The ads here on this blog are provided by Google Adsense. Google Adsense, as well other ad companies, such as DoubleClick, monitor where you go and what you read to give ads targeted to you. In the case of my mom, because my blog is about camping, those were the ads she was first getting. As she visits other sites, it sees that she also likes the clothing, so she gets the ads about clothing, and knowing from her history that she like a certain company, so ads are shown of stuff she might like from the company she likes, figuring she is more likely to buy from there again.

Companies like this of course because it targets their audience, who are more likely to buy something than anyone else. Its good for the consumers because the ads show buyers something they would like but never knew about.

People however worry that these companies are tracking you personally. That is only partial true, as what its actually being tracked is something called a cookie, or a small file that gives a unique ID. Each ID is unique to the combined of computer, user, browser. As a result, even if you have the same computer and your the same user, using different web browsers will result in a different ID and different ads. Don’t worry about these cookies and ads, they are trying to make everyone happy. If you do worry about it, just need to delete those cookies. Just note that cookies store other things, like login information, though nothing critical, just be careful you don’t delete stuff you want.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

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