Google’s new targeted ads display. Would you consider this virtual stalking?

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Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a wonderful application which allows web-owners to track how users interact with their websites. It is such a great tool that we recently began using it on this website not only because it is free but because it gives us actionable insights into how our users interacted with this website. Generally, at the end of the day we can tell the average time people spent on this page and where most people ended up after they left this page.
As mentioned, Google Analytics is a free tool which is available to anyone with a website. All you have to do is install a code on the bottom of your webpage files and you are good to go. At the end of the day, Google gives you a wonderfully interfaced output of your web activities. I highly recommend this tool for your website as well.

Google Adsense

In 2006 Google launched, Google Adsense, a system which allows web-owners to carry Google advertisements on their websites. Web-owners get paid a percentage of how much the advertiser paid for that advertisement. Yet again, Google has made this process very easy because all you have to do is get a script from Google and post it wherever you want the ads to appear. This script executes every time the page loads and displays relevant ads based on the content of the pages.

So what?

So, here is where it gets interesting: Given Google’s dominance in search, you can imagine the number of websites that are using Google analytics and adsense. Now Google is planning to mesh all these websites together and allow codes within these websites to “communicate with each other”. Therefore your browsing history will not only be used to target ads within a single website but information about your browsing history will be carried over to other websites.

Hypothetical case-in-point
To give you a clearer picture, I will use a hypothetical scenario,

You are regular, that means you have a cookie in your computer that allows the website to track the information that I previously talked about, the amount spent on site, pages viewed etc.

  1. So according the cookie, you are an engineer who recently spent a great deal of time reading our You’ve lost your job article series.
  2. Next time you visit any other website which also uses Google analytics and Adsense, the information about your possible status will be shared with the cookies in that website and that information will be used to directly market to you.
  3. As a result you will start seeing ads which appear directly targeted to you, the possibly jobless engineer.

Do you think this is stalking, or just another way for technology to make our lives easier?

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