There is much in the pedestrian media about the privacy issues of online advertising. And software vendors hawking security products have properly scared consumers about being tracked online.
Personally, I love it.
I’ve been a member of Google’s Adsense program since it launched, and my how it has changed. Specifically in recent years it has gotten very very good at behavioral tracking. I’ll often find myself shopping with purpose, or maybe just browsing an ecommerce site, then I click back to one of my sites and see ads for the site I was just on.
I know my Adsense revenue has been getting stronger and I think the reason why is other people are being as targetted as I am. Yes, it can be creepy, but it is also very useful.
For instance, we have recently decided that a one day a week nanny would be a good thing to have for our kids. So, I went on this website called SitterCity.com and started looking around. They offered a free 7 day trial but most useful features (background checks, reviews, etc) cost money. The price was $140 a year. I did not sign up, but I thought about it.
So I go and then visit one of my sites, I see an ad for SitterCity half off. So I clicked it (yes, I clicked my own ad – but only because I was really interested in it, and I have the credit card bill to prove it). Now suddenly thanks to the discount tied to the ad click through URL, the price is only $70 a year. Open wallet, remove credit card.
This is the kind of advertising that really really works, and I’m glad its showing on my site. And now I have another story to tell when I explain to people that blocking cookies and tracking on your home PC really isn’t that necessary.
This is also why online advertising will continue to grow and eat away at TV and print.