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February 14, 2006

AdSense beta testing third party tracking in image ads

Selected members have begun to receive an email from Google about the new third party tracking AdSense beta they will begin testing. This is a true beta (there were some publishers questioning if it really was from the AdSense team. For those of you not contacted about it, here is the initial contact email.


As part of our efforts to continually improve the advertising experience for our users, advertisers, and publishers, we wanted to inform you that over the next few months we will be testing new ways to serve ads to your site. Specifically, we will be running a limited number of site-targeted campaigns that will leverage 3rd party ad-serving/tracking technology.

As part of the test, you may see an increase in revenue as a result of advertisers selecting your site for site-targeted campaigns.

To track the performance of a campaign, 3rd parties ad-servers may place a cookie on users’ computers to capture standard web traffic information such as time, date, IP address and browser information. Rest assured that the 3rd party ad-servers will not rent, sell, or release user information. All data collected by these 3rd-parties is analyzed in aggregate to track advertising campaign performance and is not tied to specific users. Google will not have access to the information that is collected.

And, as always, these ads will still go through our approvals process to ensure their quality, so you don’t need to worry about annoying or user-intrusive ads on your site.

Please let me know if you have specific questions or concerns, or prefer to not participate.


The Google AdSense Team

This is quite an interesting beta test they are doing, and it will cross multiple third party trackers to do this, since the group of participating advertisers use different tracking packages to track ad effectiveness and ROI.

I asked Gokul Rajaram, Senior Product Manager of Google AdSense about this new beta.

We will be working with a number of different 3rd parties during the course of this experiment, since different advertisers use different third parties to measure effectiveness. Google will not have any access to the 3rd-party cookie information, and these 3rd parties do not collect or track any individually or personally identifiable information. Of course, publishers can opt out of this if they so choose. Finally, this is an experiment, and we will evaluate the results of this experiment in a couple of months to figure out how to proceed.

This beta will mean that advertisers can allow their tracking programs to drop a cookie, again that tracks non-personal information. There is no word yet on which thirds parties are included in this experiment.

I also asked Gokul what ad types would be included in this third party tracking during the beta test period.

The ads will be image ads, and will be in all the sizes that support image ads.

If you are in the beta, and want to ensure you are using third party tracking friendly ad units, they will be running in these standard ad unit sizes that currently display image ads:

This is an interesting experiment, especially since it is tracking selected publishers through site targeting. This experiment could result in some advertisers expanding their contextual advertising marketing campaign to include larger budgets and/or a higher number of targeted sites, which is good news for publishers. Because this is an experimental beta test, it means the ability if advertisers to track via AdSense may be turned off after the beta is over.

This will definitely be one to watch, especially as publishers who are involved in the beta test begin voicing any opinions or reactions to this.

Thread at DigitalPoint.

Posted by Jenstar at February 14, 2006 04:12 AM

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I fail to see why they need to obtain the ip address by means of the cookie then to make things a bit more uneasy, Google does not have access to the info. Who will police this type of thing?
In recent history we have seen things like rootkits from Sony and Symantec. Two trusted companies who deliberately gained information about its users without user knowledge.

This whole new Beta system leaves the door open for more of the same from Googles advertisers since Google isnt policing it themselves.

The user need and demands protection and its Googles responsibility to provide it in this situation and by not getting the info, how are they to confirm the gained info is appropriate?

Concerned in Canada........

Posted by: charlie at February 14, 2006 05:22 AM

One of the "gotchas" in the announcement, is that participating sites need to carefully review their privacy policies to ensure that it continues to be valid when these services are deployed.

Posted by: plumsauce at February 14, 2006 10:19 AM

Simply put... We are watching our own posterior ends and its up to you to look after your own

Posted by: charlie at February 14, 2006 06:48 PM

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