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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:34 am 
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Two weeks ago, the banner ad I saw at the top of this forum was "MINIs For Sale Nunavut". If you don't know Canada, Nunavut is the territory comprising of much of our eastern arctic, centered on its capital Iqaluit (pop. 7700), the former settlement of Frobisher Bay. There are few roads, and it's not known as a driver's paradise. If there are even 3 Minis in Iqaluit I'd be aghast. The territory consists of a number of islands in Canada's eastern arctic ocean. I live on Vancouver Island, an island in the north pacific ocean, some 3,500 km (as the crow flies - way farther by road, except there are no roads) from Nunavut. Why is Google trying to sell me an arctic Mini? My mind boggled.

Today I log in and find that the ad has shifted. Now it says, "MINIs For Sale Saint John". Saint John is, of course, the principle city of New Brunswick, one of Canada's Atlantic provinces. It's 4200 km from Vancouver Island. I can't imagine that the vendor managed to shift his stock; nor can I imagine that there ever was any significant stock of Minis for sale in the arctic. I suppose the whole episode must be some advertiser's Google adwords fail, in which the vendor failed to set their parameters correctly, and Google happily served them up a useless ad on the Chiffboard. I suppose the vendor should be happy to know that Google at least knows I'm in Canada, or else next month's ad is likely to say "MINIs For Sale Corpus Christi".

Edited: Sigh. Oh well. Right now, the banner is trying to sell sell me Chinese food in Denver. You can waste a lot of money on adwords if you don't want to pay to get specific. And I work hard to ensure that I'm a low-value eyeball for Google; that they know the minimum I can manage about me, and I regularly delete what they do know about me, as much as I can.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:21 am 
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I barely enough about computers and the internet to be dangerous, but I believe that even if you give them nothing else to go on (search histories and whatnot) they will use your IP address to approximate your location and tailor ads to that assumed location. This may work reasonably well for them if you happen to have a static IP address. In my case, stuck with no other options than satellite internet (due to my rural location), my IP address is dynamic, so I get ads for things from all over the continental U.S. and sometimes farther afield. The most persistent one is from a food bank in Fairbanks, Alaska. It has been 40 years since I was last in Fairbanks, and I have never donated to them.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:56 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
And I work hard to ensure that I'm a low-value eyeball for Google; that they know the minimum I can manage about me, and I regularly delete what they do know about me, as much as I can.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I became convinced that these ad-generating bots might also take cues from the content of our posts; I used the word "butch" once, and immediately the banner started throwing ads at me about Gander Mountain, ATVs, hunting gear, and the like. I am no outdoorsman, nor do I search this stuff online.

Then there was the time I was getting ads for a Muslim matchmaking service. No idea in the slightest where that came from, but maybe it was because C&F's Interfaith Cafe was still in use at the time. But for the life of me, to memory I'd never used the word "Muslim" there even once, so maybe my theory has its flaws.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:49 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I became convinced that these ad-generating bots might also take cues from the content of our posts...


From posts, from your browser and search histories, from the contents of your gmail messages if you have a gmail account. The more Google knows about you, the more they can make selling your attention.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:26 am 
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The ad server knows it is serving the adds to the person it has a profile on, it knows it's a phpBB posting page, and Google knows how to analyse text. Maybe you have to preview the post for it to know that it has text specific to you, maybe not.

I suspect that some of the adds that follow me around trad music forums are for the sort of people who hang around trad forums rather than me in particular.

I wonder how much a certain Dublin music store is spending with Google. I am getting sick of the sight of it.


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