Google and behavioral targeting

August 1st, 2007

bulls eyeAn article in CIO Insight, Google wary of behavioral targeting in online ads, quotes Google VP Susan Wojcicki as saying that Google does not plan to do behavioral targeting — building up a profile of a user’s interests over time to better select advertisements for them to see.

“Google Inc. is looking to find more links between the searches its users do in order to better target advertising, but the company is reluctant to go much further than that in tracking their behavior.”

Google is working on improving relevance by looking at what might be thought of as search two grams.

“Google has been testing for several weeks a new advertising feature that delivers ads based not simply on a specific search term, but also on the immediately previous search, she said. A user who types “Italy vacation” into a Google search box might see ads about Tuscany or cheap flights to Europe. Were the same user to subsequently search for “weather,” Google will assume there is a link between “Italy vacation” and “weather” and deliver ads tied to local weather conditions in Italy.”

This is a straightforward idea that can be done without building user models or profiles.