Google Responds to Behavioral Targeting Questions – Sort of

Privacy groups were up-in-arms when Google announced recently it would start testing behavioral ads in its AdSense network. Now the company has responded to inquiries about the new ad targeting — but not to the privacy concerns.

Yesterday Google’s AdSense blog listed answers to “the most common questions” about what it refers to as “interest-based advertising.” Among the questions is one about whether AdSense will no longer serve contextual and placement-targeted ads. Not to worry, says Google. “Interest-based ads will compete in the same ad auction as contextually- and placement-targeted ads, and we’ll continue to show only the ad(s) that will generate highest earnings for [publishers],” notes the post.

Google does touch on privacy though. Publishers are told to update their privacy policies by April 8th (a day before the new targeting will begin). Of particular relevance, the new privacy policy states, “Google’s use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and other sites on the Internet.” I don’t know what it said before, but I’m guessing the bit about “other sites” is new.

Even if an AdSense publisher opts-out of enabling all the behavioral ad targeting capabilities, the privacy policy change is required. Here’s why: “This is because your site may still show ads based on a user’s previous interactions with an advertiser, such as past visits to that advertiser’s site.”

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