Google to Monitor Visited Webpages for Ad Serving

The company says that there are privacy concerns

By Marius Oiaga on March 11th, 2009 14:31 GMT
The current model by which Google is serving online advertisements is evolving. The Mountain View-based search giant indicated that it was responding to requests from both advertisers and partners with the new move of introducing what it referred to as “interest-based advertising.” What this means is that Google will monitor the webpages visited by end users in order to serve ads based not only on the keywords or the content of a website, but also on the pages previously visited.

“We think we can make online advertising even more relevant and useful by using additional information about the websites people visit. Today we are launching "interest-based" advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest — say sports, gardening, cars, pets — with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to show you more relevant text and display ads,” revealed Susan Wojcicki, Google VP, Product Management.

Wojcicki admitted that keeping track of the webpages a specific user visited by accessing information in their browser did manage to generate user choice and privacy concerns. But Google was ready to address any sort of concerns that would prevent it from serving tailored advertising. Wojcicki revealed that this would be done by offering transparency, choice and control.

“Transparency - We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google's ad serving,” Wojcicki added. “Choice - We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.”

When it comes down to control, Google informed that the advertising cookie could be opted out via the AdSense partner network. In addition, the Mountain View search giant also made available a browser plug-in that is capable of ensuring that the opt-out choice remains unchanged.
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