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Google has publicly ruled out a more extensive move into behavioural targeting of web users, despite the potential uplift it would give to its online ad clients.

Speaking yesterday, Susan Wojcicki, Google’s vice president of product management for advertising, was adamant that the company would use no more than a surfer's single search session to target its ads.

"That (targeting over a longer period) is not something that we have participated in, for a variety of reasons,” Reuters reported Wojcicki as saying.

“We believe that task-based information at the time (of a user's search) is the most relevant information to what they are looking at. We always want to be very careful about what information would or would not be used."

The words don’t signal any big change in Google’s position, but they do come at a time when online advertisers are crying out for more precise targeting. Moves are also being made in the area by other large ad networks, such as AOL’s purchase of Tacoda last week.

Google is in a better position to track web surfers’ likes and dislikes than anyone else on the web, and recently started to test a new tool that enables ads to be tailored around users’ current and immediately previous search queries, to provide more context. But it is under pressure over privacy and says behavioural targeting is by no means 100% accurate in determining what a user is interested in.

Wojcicki said that it would go no further in gathering information on users' online activities:

"What we are very careful about is traditional behavioural targeting. Nothing is stored, nothing is remembered. It all happens within that session."


Published 1 August, 2007 by Richard Maven

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