Adsense indexing your bookmarks?

Posted on June 3, 2010


Most people understand how Google Adsense works. Google Adsense is a money-making program for website owners that allows them to place code on their websites that has been provided by Google in order to display adverts. When someone clicks on one of the adverts, Google and the website owner take a share of the money charged to the Advertiser, who has uploaded the ads via Google Adwords (also known as PPC).

Now – Google determines what adverts go where by indexing the content of the website in question, so that if your website is about dogs, you’ll see adverts relating to dogs. You might see ads for dog baskets, dog insurance and other related dog products, but what you shouldn’t see is ads for mountain bikes from Halfords.

That’s what I saw recently on a website that had nothing to do with mountain bikes. The odd placement of ads was dismissed as simply Google placing random adverts until it had enough time to index the website in question in order to place relevant ads, yet something seemed odd as I was actually thinking of buying a mountain bike at the time. Was it chance, or did Google know?

Have we entered some Minority Report situation where Google now knows what you’re thinking of buying, and offers you relevant adverts in order to complete the sale?

Suspicions were confirmed when reading about the semi finals for Britain’s Got Talent on the website where, once again, the same mountain bike adverts from Halfords appeared.


No coincidence, and nothing to do with the content of the website. No, Google has managed to index the most recent bookmarks within Firefox and has realised that one of them is for a mountain bike on Halfords’ website. Obviously believing that a sale could be forthcoming, Google has decided to bombard me with ads for mountain bikes – which could well work too, but it does raise more pertinent questions.

Have you noticed any adverts on websites lately that were a little bit too accurate for your liking? Do you feel that your privacy may have been infringed upon in some small way?

Has Google gone too far?

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
  • Adam says:

    Do you think it is indexing the bookmarks or could it be the new remarketing targeting that is available in AdWords now?

    If halfords have set up some smart remarketing audience targeting in AdWords, they saw you looked at a particular page on their site (cookie set), and are now targeting you on their content campaigns with specific ads.

    This looks like what is happening to me.

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