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Note to webmasters – update your Google AdSense privacy policy

By on Mar 25, 2009 in Tech Takes | 0 comments

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Google has notified all webmasters using the Google AdSense program for displaying ads on websites to update their privacy policy, to reflect some changes. Google has now decided to start showing ‘interest-based ads’ on Google AdSense to surfers. What this means is that while earlier Google Ads were based only on the content of the page, Google will now be tracking your visits to other sites and may show you ads on the basis of that. As a webmaster you can opt-out of this (go to My Account under AdSense), but this is not a good idea since I believe a major chunk of AdWords publisher will hop on to the interest-based ads bandwagon for better return on investment.

You need to edit the privacy policy on your blog / site to say this (under the Third-Part Advertising section):

We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

Google’s use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to you based on your visit to this site and other sites on the Internet. You may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.

As you can figure out Google got this technology from its acquisition of DoubleClick. DoubleClick isn’t a privacy advocates’ darling but Google tapping into DoubleClick for better monetization (in these ‘recession times’) was inevitable. DoubleClick by no means is the only ad network to use this kind of technology though.

Many of the advertising platforms using this targetting are a member of the Network Advertising Initiative. You can go to the Network Advertising Initiative Opt-out page to see if you currently have any such ‘tracking cookies’, and opt-out of them if you want. Note this this opt-out preference itself is stored using a cookie, so when you clear cookies in your browser this preference will be lost and you’ll have to opt-out once again if you want to.

Specifically for Google’s case you can go to the Google Ads Preferences page. Here you can block the DoubleClick ‘tracking’ DART cookie using a cookie-based opt-out; or if want to opt-out permanently then install a small plugin to do so so – this is for Mozilla Firefox / Internet Explorer users only. Losers Users using Safari and Chrome can read the instructions for their case.

Oh, and just case you want to see ads based on your interests, you can choose areas of interest from the same Google Ads Preferences page (obviously, don’t choose the ‘Opt-out’ option if you’re doing this).

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