Musings on web ads

I’m sitting on the deck enjoying a cold glass of margarita mix that some good friends brought.  It’s a gorgeous summer evening and the kids are all playing on the lawn.  This stuff is surprisingly potent.  Anyway I’m sitting and thinking about Adsense and other online advertising programs.  There is an Adsense ad to the right of this post.  I put it on to help defray hosting costs (though it brings in pennies per month…literally).  What is interesting however is that it is probably displaying something related to a site you’ve been looking at, or something you are interested in.  Take a look and see.  For example I was recently looking for a particular brand of shoes at Zappos and some other site.  I then noticed over the next few days that when I went to other sites I saw adds for shoes, often Zappos ads.  They followed me.  I couldn’t seem to escape them.  Shoes.  Everywhere.  This kind of targeted advertising using cookies (little bits of code that browsers store locally) is nothing new, but I never really noticed it until the shoes began chasing me.  Have the advertisers improved their techniques?  I don’t know, but I am noticing more products following me around the web, and I find it interesting and vaguely sinister (clearly not sinister enough to dissuade me from having an ad on my own site though).  There are ways to avoid being tracked by advertisers of course, and published a very interesting article about it last year.  So the question becomes, how much does it bother me that advertisers track where I’ve been on the web, and how intrusive is it being shown ads targeted to my interests and buying patterns?  What am I prepared to do about it, or do I even care that much?  Clearly some deep thought is called for before deciding on the proper course of action.  Better sit and think about it a bit.  This margarita mix really is quite tasty…and potent.  Sitt’n time.

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