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Google's newest advertising strategy, behavioral targeting, has finally arrived. The strategy, referred to as "interest-based" advertising, will go beyond current targeted advertising practices and track your Internet usage habits in order to serve an ad that the search giant hopes is better suited for you. This means that, instead of visiting a music site and simply getting music-related ads, you might visit a music site and getting ads for the newest "Cats Meowing Christmas Carols" album—because Google knows you spend 95 percent of your Internet time at Catster.
The company announced today that it's launching a beta test of the interest-based system today on its partner sites and YouTube, eventually allowing other advertisers to join the program in April. Advertisers have long been asking for a way to behaviorally target ads, the company said, but Google also says that it will benefit end-users by showing them ads they're genuinely interested in. "We believe there is real value to seeing ads about the things that interest you," Google's VP of Product Management Susan Wojcicki wrote on the Official Google Blog.
For those who want to control how the interest-based ads are targeting them, Google has added options to its preference pane that let users view how they've been categorized so far. From there, users can add other interest categories or even delete the ones that have already been added. Currently, ad categories range from animals to computers & electronics to food & drink, and everything in between. Each category can be split out into various subcategories as well, so users can get as granular as they would like in terms of what kinds of ads they want to see.
The key issue that Google will undoubtedly deal with for years to come will be—of course—privacy. Needless to say, Google's announcement has the alarms going off with privacy advocates, and some users are already uneasy with the idea. Google is attempting to allay those fears by letting users opt out of the new advertising model, and has even designed a browser plug-in that maintains the opt-out choice (in case you're the compulsive cookie-clearing type).
Google is careful to note that the new system doesn't attach any identifying information to the cookie, though the mere fact that it exists is already too much for some critics. "Google might well hype their targeting system as a boon to pet owners, but the reality is that the service will track just about everything you do and everything you're interested in, no matter how personal or sensitive," Privacy International head Simon Davies told the BBC. He and others believe that the system should off by default and allow users to opt-in if they choose, but Google insists that it believes opt-out is the way to go.
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Source : https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2009/03/googles-interest-based-ads-try-to-address-privacy-worries/