Friday, March 13, 2009

Cookies For Breakfast

Beware! Advertisers are coming for your soul. Now that you're here it may be too late!

How'd you like my boogieman impression?

OK, calm down. Let me explain:

If you've never noticed (I never do), there are AdSense ads on my blog. When I created the blog, I thought it would be fun to see what Google thought belonged as advertising on my site. There was also the prospect of a paycheck from ad revenue in the event my scribblings became renown. Well, no such luck. I'm yet to earn a dime from the ads.

While they don't take up much space, I've toyed with the idea of pulling the ads and closing my AdSense account. The thought came and went, but I really didn't pay it any mind. That is until yesterday. Yesterday I recieved this email from my partners on the AdSense Team:

We're writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising, which will require you to review and make any necessary changes to your site's privacy policies. You'll also see some new options on your Account Settings page.

Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user's previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. "sports enthusiast"). To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at

As a result of this announcement, your privacy policy will now need to reflect the use of interest-based advertising. Please review the information at to ensure that your site's privacy policies are up-to-date, and make any necessary changes by April 8, 2009. Because publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we're unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language.

For more information about interest-based advertising, you can also visit the Inside AdSense Blog at

We appreciate your participation and look forward to this upcoming enhancement.
The Google AdSense Team
First, I have to stop myself from pointing out the hilarious irony of "interest-based" advertising on THIS site. But it sounds pretty big, doesn't it?

Second, I should note that that little email has created quite a stir on the Inter-tubes. But I digress.

So what does this mean for you, my good reader? It means that the End Times are approaching. It means that Google, through me, is watching your every move. It means that with the one-two punch of Analytics and AdSense, Google will set the Mother of All Cookies in your browser. A monstrous cookie; one with the half-life of a Twinkee; one that follows you everywhere you surf; one that feeds Google's bottomless appetite for the almighty dollar and increased share-holder value. I, for my shame, have wrought this upon your soul and I am sorry. The least you can do now is buy from my line of whey-cewl cycling apparel.

A few tips: if internet-based tracking frightens you, you might want to find a hole or a cave to live in. But if you prefer to keep your suburban lifestyle, you might consider ditching Internet Exploder for Firefox with the AdBlock and NoScript add-ons. You might consider ditching Internet Exploder anyway. Because if, like me, you've realized the futility of maintaining any real privacy on the brave, new, ad-supported, corporate-controlled Interwebs, you might want to consider Firefox with the AdBlock and NoScript add-ons, just to keep a handle on the amount of information you expose.

Whew! I've done my part to keep the Intrabytes safe for democracy by raising a panic about your cyber-existence. I even went the extra mile and recommended a few simple work-arounds. For now I'm going to keep the ads and the reader counters. After all, the ads might make me some money one day, and the counters make really phat graphs. Won't you please buy my jerseys?


Peter said...

Glad to see others are noticing the vile smell coming from under that pretty mask... I've removed all AdSense from sites, and posted the link to get the Almighty Opt-Out Cookie of Invisibility:

AdSense Privacy? - Need a New Ad Provider

Anyone else find it ironic that you have to get one cookie to avoid getting another?

NOTE: If you have your browser set to automatically clear cookies, or do this manually (you should) - set your HOME PAGE to the Google opt out link. You will need to opt out before every browsing session!

Sam Sylar said...

I'll agree that Google is becoming scary. Unfortunately, most folks don't understand browser cookies enough to care. Session tracking is necessary for maintain application state, especially in secure transactions, and cookies are a necessary evil - for now.

Pulling the ads is an empty gesture for a small blog. I'll probably pull them just because they don't do anything for the site, but not in protest.

I hate to say it, but the way Google goes, so goes the Web. There are ways around this, but they are beyond the capability of the average user.

This type of tracking is the way of things now, as companies demand more targeted advertising for the dollar. Better to manage your exposure than to make your surfing difficult.