Google AdSense as jumped into the behavioural targeting ad game with the launch of their new “interest based targeting” in an email publishers received last night, and which was also posted on the Inside AdSense blog.
Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show 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 recognize the types of web pages 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.
The new advertising will start with only a limited number of beta testers, before rolling out with a wider release later this year.
Individuals can also click on the “Ads by Google” link on the AdSense ad units to modify their preferences by adding their preferred categories or to opt-out of the interest based targeting. There is also information about your specific Google cookie for the computer you are currently on.
The category options are surprisingly extensive (800-900 it appears) and you can completely drill down into multiple levels of the high level categories.
I find it quite interesting that Google is not calling it behavioural targeting. I must admit, the “interest based targeting” sounds much less “Big Brother-ish” which is the biggest complaint about behavioral advertising. I have long thought that Google could have amazing results using behavioural targeting, provided it was rolled out correctly. And changing up the name from something that sounds less intrusive was definitely a good move for Google to make.
It will be interesting to see what the response rate is for surfers opting out and for those who drill down their interests using the category selection. I suspect unless it hits the mainstream media with a “why you should opt-out”, most surfers would be none the wiser and will continue to remain opted-in.
I have seen a few people comment that they believe this should be opt-in for surfers, but I would suspect the adoption rate would be so low that it wouldn’t be worth it for Google to do this program.
This will either be a really good thing or a really bad thing for publishers. It does have the potential to drive more advertisers into content who want to take advantage of this targeting, since the argument goes that advertisers who see more personalized ads based on their surfing habits are much more likely to see ads that interest them specifically, and are more likely to click on the ads. However, there is definitely the flip side that while your site might be about something that is in a higher AdSense earnings market area (say, finance for example), it could definitely hurt a publishers bottom line if the surfer sees knitting related ads because that is what their interest based targeting would serve up on the financial site. There will hopefully be some checks and balances in place where higher paying contextually targeted ads would appear before lower paying interest based targeted ads. However, since Google is also in it for the bottom line, you would hope they’d show the higher paying ads first, or else they will have a whole slew of cranky publishers complaining about it.
Now, because it is a limited beta group testing this first, it won’t affect your bottom line, either positively or negatively, until later this year. And I am sure publishers who are asked to participate in the beta will have the choice to opt-out if they wish. And Google should ideally be giving plenty of warning before they unleash interest based targeting on the masses, so AdSense publishers can really analyze the results and see how the program is affecting their bottom line.
So what is everyone thinking about the new interest based targeting? A good thing? A bad thing?
I also can’t wait until next month to pepper the AdSense reps about it who will be at ADSPACE So if you are going to be in the San Francisco area on April 22nd, you will definitely want to be there since this is pretty significant news by Google to announce.