(except for Facebook and Google and many other corporations)
See those ads over there to the right? They are generated by looking at the text of this blog. Google can take the text here, work out what I’m writing about and push adverts of a similar theme. Most of the time I’m talking about technology or braces, and hence there are techy and medical adverts in that advertising space.
This system applies to many of Google’s services – the idea being that if Google gives you adverts on what you’re interested in, you’re more likely to click on them, and hence the more revenue Google gets. Google is of course, funded almost entirely by advertising.
Facebook knows everything about you, and use that data to give you adverts. I am a sucker to Facebook advertising, but that “Ain’t no party like a time lord party because a time lord party is not bound by typical temporal parameters and thus don’t stop” t-shirt was totally worth it.
I was once on a search for cheap monitors to extend my laptop screen, but I initially wanted to find out how much a typical new monitor would set me back. After realising that I would be £200 poorer if I buy one new from Dell, I quickly set my sights to eBay and found an old 15” 1024×768 LCD monitor for only £15. It suited my needs perfectly.
After I’d bought it though, I kept noticing adverts dotted around various websites shouting out at me to buy a monitor from Dell. I was also getting adverts from thetrainline telling me to buy tickets from Bath Spa to Exeter. Good guess doubleclick.net, I only bought those tickets a few days ago, I wonder how you could have known.
(I don’t use thetrainline anymore, because although they say it’s cheaper, it isn’t. I now book with First Great Western because they have no card handling fee. Anyway, back to the story.)
COOKIES. Every site you go on, everything you search for, your interests, your life, stored on a little file accessed by your browser and other web services you use. Now often, cookies are very useful, allowing you to remain logged in to web services and save your preferences locally (a good example of this was the previous BBC homepage, before they went all Metro-esque).
In order to keep only the cookies owned by the site you visited and block everything else, your web browser will most likely offer you the option of blocking third-party cookies. In Chrome, this can be done in Settings – Under the Hood – Privacy – Content Settings then ticking the box entitled “Block third-party cookies and site data”.
See that little picture of a cookie with a cross on it? That means Chrome has blocked some third-party cookies. Clicking on it brings you the list of all the cookies it has blocked. Dell really do try to force a lot on you.
Now this cookie blocking doesn’t stop personalised adverts that Google or Facebook sends you, because their data about you is stored with them, not on your computer. There are a
plerethora perefola plethera plerefora lot of extensions out there that help with that sort of stuff, but I’m not going to go on about that because I don’t use them. If the majority of people used ad-blocking plugins, many Internet services would not get any revenue and would shut down. Free services that we know and love would have to start charging you, and we don’t want that.
Going back to my initial point about Google now (and the whole reason I wrote this post anyway before getting carried away by cookies): today I received an email ending in “xxx”. By scanning this email, Google decided to push me an advert linking me to a page with 90% discount on engagement rings.
BAD GOOGLE – I DO NOT WISH TO MARRY MY MOTHER.