Google Chrome – Advertising Replacement?September 18, 2008
I was reading YAGA (Yet Another Google Article) about contextual advertising in Chrome when it clicked:
Back in 2000 I was working for a web applicantion server. One of our customers, a big well-recognized retailer, was thinking about starting their own ISP service (remember when you accessed the internet though a phone line?). The goal was not to make money on the ISP service, but to subsidize ti to get very broad adoption and then use it as a marketing tool.
The idea – which I thought was brilliant at the time – was to have a server inspect every page being served to customers sing the service to browse the web, understand the context, and replace any banners being served in the pages with banners for the retailer that were contetually relevant. Basically, they would be replacing ads in any page the ISP customers visited with their own ads. The retailer was getting a free, contextually relevant advertising channel to their customer base. The guy who was thinking about this told me it ws perfectly legal. It sounded great but never materialized for reasons not relevant to this post.
Could Google do the same with Chrome? I expect Google to be capturing tons of customer behavior information from the browing history and no question they would use it to improve the targeting of their ads. This is pretty scary if you think an employee could be using Chrome to brose the company intranet or to access company confidential informatioon thorugh the browser and a subset of the data could be sent to Google.
But could Google replace any ads on the pages being browsed via Chrome with their own? for some reason, the idea that seemed really smart for a retailer now sounds pretty scary when I think of Google doing it. Is Google too big? Does Google already know too much about us?