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Google AdSense occasionally nonsense

June 1, 2010

There can be no doubt that the web has enabled and enriched our lives tremendously. Access to data and information that just a few years ago would have taken hours to acquire is now often just several clicks away. Rarely has access to such a wealth of data, services and information been so simple, or free. Sometimes it merely appears to be free, with the cost demanded subtly in the form of targeted advertising.

In technological terms we’re in a broad transitional phase in the way “new media” advertising is delivered. In the near future, crass, irritating banner ads that Flash annoyingly and invade nothing more than our peripheral subconscious will be dead, reduced to novelty-value digital flotsam. After all, the intellectual investment imbued in the best advertising campaigns is fatally undermined by crap delivery.

A decorative quote from the main articleThough ostensibly ‘new tech’, Google’s Adsense can be laughably crude in situations where the algorithms can’t discern and accurately interpret content around which the ads are placed. In the post immediately below I talk about the my injured foot delaying the purchase of an iPad on launch day. As you might expect, my foot condition is described with brevity whilst the iPad and brouhaha surrounding it forms the main body of my post. In the interests of streaming traffic to advertisers, what does AdSense do? Yes, it places advertisements for Podiatry around the article. My site typically isn’t visited by podiatrists, unless they’re in the business of commissioning a new website and it certainly isn’t visited by podiatry patients looking for advice.

The upshot is that so-called ‘targeted advertising’ is dramatically ineffective and serves no purpose other than generating amusement or minor ridicule. In an admirably broad definition of the term, you might even describe the embedding of inappropriate, irrelevant advertising around editorial content as spam. This is regrettable given that in this case, AdSense revenue contributes towards the cost of serving and hosting WordPress blogs, thus granting the aforementioned free access. Unfairly or not, Google’s motto Don’t be evil attracts much attention, denigration and suspicion. Perhaps it’s time for something a little less self-consciously introspective; something more positive, ambitious and inspirational. Instead of the negative Don’t be evil I respectfully suggest the positive Do better. You read it here first.

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