I use Google to search for everything now online; it’s my preferred search engine of choice and usually gets me the information I’m looking for straight away. With most browsers including the search box in the page, it is so simple to type in a couple of key words and within seconds you have a page of matches. In Safari you don’t even have a search box, it’s included within the URL entry box making it even easier.
It’s never really occurred to me to worry about how Google gets it so right and knows what sort of things I’m likely to wants to see, but usually it does and it is rare that I have to venture past the first ten searches made. But of course they get it right due to tracking the types of pages you visit. Whilst this is very helpful when trying to find information, it does get a bit more sinister when it comes to advertising.
[As an aside, someone at work asked me to do some speed tests on my Broadband at different times of the day and send them the results. They suggested using SpeedTest, a well known broadband checking site and so for the past week I’ve been using it at various times of the day, highlighting how shoddy my broadband connection is!]
Anyhow back to the main story…
Over recent weeks I had noticed an increasing number of web page adverts that seem to match the sort of things I’ve been looking at. For example, Matt recently has been thinking about buying a car and so I starting searching around for the make and model he was after. There was a couple of sites that looked like they were going to be fruitful so I kept returning to check on stock and prices, one in particular, Robinson Motor Group seemed to do have cars in his price range.
So imagine my surprise when I was running the speed test this morning when I just happened to glance at the advertising plastered all over the page!
Every single add was from the Robinson Motor Group, with small pictures of the similar sorts of cars to the ones I had been searching last week. How about that for direct, targeted sales! I guess if I’d clicked them the Google would get some sort of commission for directing me to the motor site.
I know Amazon are doing similar targeted advertising; I recently searched for a new camcorder to use at Abby’s wedding next week (another blog to write) and since then I keep getting e-mails detailing camcorders I might be interested in.
And so it does make you think that if companies can track and present suggested purchases based on searches you make online, what are other keeping records of? I have never worried about accepting cookies as I have never regarded my internet browsing as anything anyone else would be interested in,, but now I’m not so sure!