Since not every single one gets clicked on, Google’s ads might be considered less than perfect. A new patent application would make behavioral targeting a central part of improving them.
Patent news is, of course, somewhat noncommittal by nature. We’ve all heard about patent trolls – people (or companies) who try to own every obvious detail or outlandish possibility purely for the sake of profit. And even though Google doesn’t fall into this category, it (along with most other businesses) doesn’t make use of every patent for which it applies.
Still, some interesting ideas are on display among the 11,000 or so words in the application (filed last week by Googler Krishna Bharat), and for a path through the scientist-speak, we can turn to Barry Schwartz.
Schwartz, after giving a hat tip to Bill Slawski, summarizes, “Based on a user’s behavior, Google may adapt the AdSense ads in one or more of these methods: Change the number of ads to show …. Change the type of ads displayed …. change the style of the ad displayed including the age of that content, and the type of content (e.g., text, graphics, video, audio, mixed media, etc.) …. Previous queries may be used to better associated geographic information to the ad …. Or more information.”
Hopefully this doesn’t mean people who try to ignore advertisements will be buried under a sea of them, and the same group probably wouldn’t appreciate ads that make sounds. Also, even as NBC’s “30 Rock” explained the uncanny valley’s relation to humanlike entities, Google might not want to get too eerily insightful about what ads it shows users.
Still, Schwartz later continues, “Google may also use behavioral targeting to change factors for advertisers including: Ad price information …. Ad performance information …. Targeting criteria match information, and …. Advertiser quality information.” So it seems that the search giant is trying to think through all the ways in which this sort of stuff can be useful.
A timeframe for any changes remains completely unknown, of course; there hasn’t been so much as an applicable peep from either the Google Public Policy Blog or the company’s mainstream Press Center. It’s entirely possible that the proposed changes will be discarded as new ideas come up or old ones fail to work out as planned.
Meanwhile, it’ll be worth watching Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Ask, and every other search company to see if they pursue similar paths. Patent applications sometimes spill the beans, so to speak, and set off a race even as businesses try to stay in the clear legally.