Google’s rhetoric carefully avoids use of “tracking,” “following,” or even “tagging” or “collecting” to describe this process. Google “remembers” your visit. Your cookie, by the way, is also humanized, because in Ghosemajumder’s construction, it talks to Google but never “tells” Google who you are. Most of the time he does not even talk much about what is being stored on your cookie on your browser. Instead, he frames the process as putting your cookie into an interest category. Interestingly, what started as a cookie that Google “stores on your browser,” quickly becomes “your cookie number” and then becomes “your cookie.”
Just as interesting are the arguments that are not here. At no point is he suggesting that the ads pay for your free search services or even that there is a fair exchange of value. Google is not bartering with us. It is presenting itself as a partner in an effort to give you more relevant information. What is interesting to me about the pitch is how he elides publisher, consumer and advertiser interests pretty fluidly rather than suggesting any kind of natural conflict of interests, any intrinsic relationship that might require a barter, trade or negotiation.
The roll out interest-based targeting was a PR masterstroke. All you have to do is look at the headline from the NY Times coverage.
The B-word doesn’t appear in the headline — I see high-fives in the Google PR control center. They did their job well.