The web is watching you (well, me)

The web, it seems, is getting smarter.

If you’ve been traversing the interwebs in the same manner as I have these past few months then you may remember these smart little ads from Google, informing us that ad space will work harder.

They’re not wrong. It is.

A few weeks ago I had to travel up to Grantham to speak to one of our clients, MARS, about how to build social into one of their newest (and most exciting) ventures. To get there, it’s a short tube ride from our global headquarters in Piccadilly, up to Kings Cross, from there a train ride to Grantham, whereupon a 30min cab ride awaits to cart you to the the MARS PetCare HQ in Waltham.

Obviously, when making any public transport-based travel plans, militant scheduling is required. is useful in this instance as it covers every overground train schedule in the country. Note; all I did was check the times of the trains. My browser knows this, Google knows this and so therefore, the ad that Channel 4’s adspace chooses to serve me when I want to read about the British Comedy Awards knows also.

Contextual web-based advertising. It’s a wonderful thing. The mind races through a thousand thought processes;

Wow, that’s awesome. I should screengrab that for the blog. Contextual advertising, nice. Wait a minute, are they allowed to do that? Hmm, maybe I said they could do that when I ticked some random box.. maybe, just through visiting their site, I’ve already agreed to let them follow me around the web.. is this cookie based? It must be.. What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

What other data am I pushing out daily?

And how can it be used?

This last thought in particular is one we’re going to be coming back to over the next few months here at 1000heads. Over the past year or so we’ve been doing a lot of work on conversation metrics, purchase journey mapping and ultimately, the real value that word of mouth can bring to any business, globally.

Combined, these three content streams can provide some very real data about how consumers like you and I go about our daily decision making processes; in the first instance it really is quite scary… but in the second, once all the data is locked down and independently verified – for brands at least – it can be very, very useful indeed.

As Google might say – ‘WATCH THIS SPACE’ for more on this… in the meantime, tickets to Grantham are only £9.

Who knew?

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

5 thoughts on “The web is watching you (well, me)”

  1. Apparently Dell are doing it too. It's awesome and creepy. Probably in equal measure.

    James Whatley Reply:

    That's just it; the sum of the awesome and the creepy is going to become more and more of a hot topic this year and, without proper regulation (and industry-wide openness), I wonder how the general public will learn to accept it..

  2. I first really noticed this in early 2008… I was chatting via GoogleTalk IM with a colleague about an idea we had for a prototype project (for the company we both worked at) involving using data analytics in non-traditional markets with non-traditional data sources. We had never chatted about the topic of data analytics before in any fashion.

    The next day when I logged into GMail, I noticed that beside a message was an advertisement for a book on analytics.

    It wasn't as advanced as what you see now, but nonetheless was a tad of an eye-opener for me that nothing said within view of Google's mechanical eye goes untracked.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Ah yes, the old Gmail contextual advertising chestnut. I remember when this first launched and users were up in arms about being offered things such as funeral services and flowers when discussing the death of a loved one.

    Highly relevant yes, but super personal and 100% not welcome. As the web (and the pipes behind it) get smarter, where else (and what else) will advertisers use to hit that sweet spot of a potential sale?

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