Author: April Hall

Website Content Writer

So here’s the deal: you sit down and decide to use the internet for a bit of personal intellectual growth. Your mission is to learn more about the presidential candidates. Since you have an open mind, you decide to do quick searches for the democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton before finishing up with a quick civic lesson on the accomplishments of John McCain. As you are happily learning about red phone ads and polling miscues, you notice something along the right hand sidebar of your browser: targeted advertising. What is going on here? How do the little men in the search engines know what you type into the keyword search box?

Search engines have indeed become quite “smart”; or, in reality, the programmers have become quite skilled at narrowing their advertising markets down to segments that are actively searching for particular products or services. In fact, Google and Yahoo generally also look at users’s IP addresses to provide local advertising (most often by state, but sometimes by city, as well). So, how does this make you feel–amazed, or somewhat infringed upon? In the age of spyware, many of us are conditioned to worry about any external source somehow “snooping” on what we are looking at online. Isn’t that somehow an invasion of privacy?

The answer is, of course, no. Search engines and their targeting advertising are completely harmless. Using this approach is simply a convenient way of providing internet searchers with information about organizations they might find useful. There is no creeping onto your hard drive or snatching your email address book.

Of course, targeting internet advertising is not perfect, and sometimes users will discover that they are viewing ads that have absolutely nothing to do with them or their internet search. Let’s say (for purposes of this exercise; this is admittedly a far-fetched example!) that you are searching for companies that make replacement “polls” (blunt ends of a hammer), and are hit with a zillion ads encouraging you to take polls that ask about everything from your opinion on the draft to who your favorite celebrity is. You might be puzzled, and even perhaps a bit annoyed, but you would understand that most people searching for “polls” are not needing a new hammer heads! Search engines are all about statistics and reaching the most people in the most accurate way possible.

Once you have tried out several internet searches and become familiar with how the search engines know which ads to show you, you might be interested in using this type of marketing for your own organization. Pay per click advertising is a great, cost-efficient way to reach your target market and build your customer base. Google has a relatively clear tutorial on how this type of advertising is used; but you may be better off entrusting your internet marketing strategies to the pros at a web development company, instead.