Google is doing it. They are really doing it! They are using consumer information to target advertising. Behavioral targeting (kinda) is here! Finally. Yippee.
The good news is that they are not screwing it up like when they bought DoubleClick and had the privacy monkeys on their back. As reported in today’s New York Times Google will be the first big company to behaviorally target consumers based online usage information. The interesting part of Google’s dip into this pond is that they are offing users the ability to view the information that is in their profile. Users also have the opportunity to opt-out (if they can figure out how).
Google will use a cookie, a small piece of text that resides inside a Web browser, to track users as they visit one of the hundreds of thousands of sites that show ads through its AdSense program. Google will assign those users to categories based on the content of the pages they visit. For example, a user may be pegged as a potential car buyer, sports enthusiast or expectant mother. (NYTs)
So, Google isn’t targeting “Danny the 27 year old, Ivy League grad student, that works on Madison Avenue, lives on the UWS, loves pizza, classic American literature, and skiing.” They see Danny as “a user that went to ski.com, so he likes sports and skiing; NYMag.com, so he lives in NYC; works in communications (maybe) because he went to AdAge.com; and is an animal lover because because he went to CuteThingsFallingAsleep.org. (Check that site out, it’s da sh*t.)
They are just categorizing users, not necessarily targeting them. Or are they targeting categories of users by behavior? So it’s “behavioral categorizing.” Or categorical targeting? I’m not sure really…
But I am sure this is a good thing for consumers. Get this: I’m watching Jeopardy (which I do every night) and an ad for some drug about fibromialsia comes on screen. That sucks. I don’t care about that. I don’t even know what that is. The ad I would want to see pop up is an ad from Delta telling me that I can get to Lake Tahoe for $199! That’s what I want!
Think of a world where the advertising we encounter online (and someday elsewhere) is actually relevant to me. Maybe I will want to view it instead of hitting fast-forward on my DVR. Maybe the 30 second TV commercial wouldn’t be so bad. We would all be like my non-jaded 4 year old niece that watches every commercial on Nickelodeon because they are actually relevant to her.
Our digital footprint might acutally save advertising by making advertising relevant… right?