Where's the context?

August 7, 2005

So while playing with my blog today, I noticed the following ad on my site (I’m not going to tell you where it was so I don’t run afoul of the AdSense Program Policies and don’t try clicking on this one since it’s a screenshot, not a real ad):

tbirdad

LOL! I’ve been blogging about Thunderbird a bit for the past few entires, but I’ve been talking about the browser not the car. What happened to the contextual engine?

Or if the engine can’t figure stuff like this out, why can’t I tell it what’s up? I wish there were feedback mechanisms available so these ads weren’t totally out in left field.

But then again, maybe it’s not so bad. After all, I bet Ford pays more for these keywords than the Mozilla Foundation and I get a cut of whatever the advertiser pays. So maybe this does maximize my earnings (and thus Google’s earnings as well). And I obviously don’t know the conversion rates from click-throughs from my site. So I guess I’m not in an informed position to say whether this ad is or isn’t performing for the advertiser…

On a related note, I can’t wait to try the new Yahoo! Publisher Network. I wonder if their contextual targetting engine is a little bit smarter or will give me more control… I know the Y!Q engine is specifically built to understand context; I wonder if the systems are linked together. Most importantly, I wonder which network performs (read: pays) better 🙂

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No Responses Yet to “Where's the context?”


  1. Indeed, it’d be cool if Google would support/add another Javascript variable to the AdSense script tag code to let the content publisher to provide a comma-separated list of keywords to help “guide” the ad selection engine. Hmm …


  2. hmmm – that’s a good one. divining context without any reference to the user (aka behavioral targeting of a fashion) is really hard – which is why google and others will have to combine these elements in some way. now in the case of something like adsense, it’s either a better, smarter engine or it could be kind of a reverse-behavioral targeting (i.e. I’m a geek ~ Thunderbird is not the Ford kind) etc. fun stuff.

  3. markjen Says:

    Hi Robert – In this case, AdSense should have figured out the context though. My blog almost never mentions cars, I’m always talking about technology, and the post the Ford Thunderbird ads showed up on had plenty of references to Mozilla. I don’t think the engine needed to know anything about the user to know that the advertising wasn’t contextual at all.

    The user behavioral targetting is quite interesting though. But that requires you to identify the user who’s browsing and you’d also need to track the user to define this behavioral profile. Not too far fetched if a company can track your search habits, e-mail history, news preferences, and blogroll 😉


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