How Should Advertisers Deal with Multiple Personality Disorder?

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

6.14.11 While doing some research for work around personalization I stumbled across an interesting phenomenon with a colleague of mine. In short, depending on which browser I use, I may look like a totally different person to the site I am visiting. For example, as advertising networks are collecting information on me and building a profile based on my interests, location, and demographics I might be throwing them for a loop by using more than one browser AND using them differently. 

Let’s take a look:

This is how I look to the Google Ad Network when I am using Internet Explorer (IE). I tend to use IE more for work related tasks and reading articles that get sent via my work email. IE is also my default browser so I open links from Tweetdeck, which is likely where the Arts & Entertainment interests are coming from. For this browser, IE does have my age and gender right.

My Google Interests Based on Sites I Visit Using Internet Explorer

When using Chrome, I look a bit different. While they still have me in the right gender category I am in a different age bracket and have a totally different set of interests. I also use Chrome for most of personal needs like gmail, financial sites, shopping, etc.

AdSense Profile When Using Google Chrome

Why is this interesting – for starters, business and advertisers work really hard on providing relevant experiences. Relevance is all about providing the “best” experience for the visitor. Since visitors are people with different backgrounds and needs, sites should flex content, images, and features depending on who they think the visitor is. The more a site publisher knows about the visitor the higher the chance of them flexing the experience correctly. This is where the above information comes into play as well as other signals like past purchase history on a site, being logged in, etc.

Given that, the question I am considering today is how should sites take into account what browser I am using? Traditionally knowing the browser was useful as it helped to determine how many browsers and versions really needed to be supported. Today, the browser now provides yet another beacon for relevance. In short, I have two different personalities on my computer and the browser I use might be the key to unlocking that. I am not quite sure how advertisers and site publishers deal with this or if they do yet, but I find it an interesting phenomenon.

To conduct your own experiments try launching the following sites in the different browsers you use:

Google  AdSense – Click Ads Preference Manager in Yellow Box:

Blue Kai – This takes you to the Blue Kai Registry. Blue Kai sells this information to site publishers to use in choosing which content to serve to visitors


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