Hey, Google, where are our interests?

October 9, 2009

When Google announced the launch of interest-based ad targeting in March, they also opened up their Ads Preferences Manager. Google explained that this console shows any consumer the interests that Google has recorded on them based on their activity across Google’s DoubleClick network. Consumers can even edit their interests within a list of over 2,000 individual interest categories.

Google’s move seemed to provide even more transparency than earlier efforts like those of BlueKai’s consumer preference registry. For many, Google’s offering was taken as a sign of good faith, and perhaps a hint of what might be possible if consumers and advertisers could interact about interests in an informed, win-win way.

I just got around to checking out my own interests at Google, only to find none recorded. Curious (and concerned about whether I really have any interests), I checked with some friends and family members. None of them had any Google interests, either. And out of fifty independent testers recruited on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, only seven seemed to have any interests recorded with Google (an average of about four interests each).

Obviously, either the scope of Google’s interest gathering is more limited than expected, or Google has more information than they’re showing. Why isn’t more interest information available to us?

To track this issue, we’re running an ongoing survey to count the number of interests that Google has on anybody willing to participate. If you want to help (and you haven’t opted-out of Google’s tracking), please take five seconds to visit this page, use the widget to grab what Google says are your interests and allow those to be counted for the survey.

It’s unscientific for sure, but it will be fun to watch as Google’s mission to organize the world’s information also becomes a quest to catalog the interests of humankind.

Postscript: Be sure to follow Opt-out Man, who similarly lacks interests (as far as Google is concerned).


2 Responses to “Hey, Google, where are our interests?”

  1. […] use Google to check that the right words and the link appear on the publisher’s site. (See a related post on […]

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