Ads that “know” you – Scary or The Way It Is?

Now that Thanksgiving is past us, and Black Friday only resulted in light trampling and not full out stampede, I’m trolling for Cyber Monday. Mostly I’m finding that shopping no longer brings the excitement that it used to, which is ironic because I’m finally at a point where I have disposable income to spend! While burning some time with my mom – and burning off some of the splurge garlic fries and beer from Gordon Biersch – we hit up Macy’s shoe department. With my waning interest in being a mall rat, shoe shopping is the one activity for which I find the time and energy. I need to know the shoe, experience the heel height and see how it affects my gait, it’s a tactile thing. After finding some gorgeous Michael Kors suede booties, I was disappointed to find there were none in my size. Once I made it home, I jumped online only to find the great 50 percent off deal in the store did not transfer to online shopping. Grrr…

I also jumped on DSW and Nordstrom’s trying without luck to find a replacement. My sartorial twin, also known as my sister, weighed in but my heart was still stuck on those Michael Kors booties and the 50% off. I chalked it up to the game, and went about online surfing my usual pop culture sites. But something was different…the shoes  were following me! Nearly every Google ad that appeared on the top, bottom and sides of these various sites were promoting the very shoes I’d just looked at online from Macy’s, Nordstrom and DSW. Not only the very selections I’d browsed but the “similar options” shoes as well. While I keep up with online advertising technology as a complementary topic to public relations, I’d never truly seen it in action in my own life. It was kind of freaky, and I’m not the only one that feels that way. Google is like an omnipotent “god” on the Internet, and the fact that to Google something is now tantamount to online searching, it’s not hard to see how the massive amount of information the company gathers means big money to its advertising departments – a full 97% of its revenue comes from ads in 2009. Think about it like this: in the first six months of this year, Google generated more advertising revenue than all of U.S. print publications combined, a princely sum of $10.9 billion US dollars.

If this concerns you, and you want to eliminate your web browser, which if you use Chrome like I do you may as well say Google, from tracking your site visits and turning them into advertising dollars, a quick search (I mean Google-ing) gives you these resources for putting the kibosh on turning your interest into cold, hard cash:

Google Chrome Goes After Marketers With New ‘Do Not Track’ Feature – Mashable

For IE browser users, here is some info via Business Insider

Twitter also apparently tracks you, check that out too.  Oh and Facebook does it as well.

Happy surfing, and I leave you with the ultimate stalker song.



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