Friday, May 24, 2013

The Google Glitch

I’m a big fan of Google. Use it every day. Several times. I appreciate its ability to help me find what I’m looking for, read mail, translate foreign languages, provide a space on which to write this blog and all the other magical things that Google and its apps do.

I understand and fully accept that in order to provide me with all this help, Google injects my IP address with some kind of tracker bot that records where I’m going and what I’m looking at so they can build a profile of who I am and then sell me stuff.

This apparently works for Google too. Last year they made upwards of $30 Billion from companies who wanted their ads targeted at the people most likely to buy something from them.

That’s considered a win-win for all concerned and so much better than the scattergun approach of television.

But lately I’ve noticed a glitch in Google’s sales strategy that might reveal that Google doesn’t know as much about me as they’d like their paying customers to believe they do.

A few months ago, I needed to get my hands on some stock footage with very specific parameters.  Having exhausted my usual sources, I went online and spent hours searching and refining my search terms until I finally found exactly what I was looking for. And I bought it.

But months later, Google is still filling the sidebars and top lines of my browser pages with ads for video footage sources. They don’t know I’ve already made a purchase and am no longer in the market.

Maybe they suspect I’ll be looking for something similar someday. And I might well be. But here in the real world, I’ve found a new name to add to my list of usual suspects. It might be a very long while before any of my cash goes to somebody new.

A few weeks ago, I also needed some emergency repairs and Google helped me find a local and reliable provider of such services. In the process I also contacted a Google suggestion who wasn’t as professional as I had expected. It was a bad experience quickly resolved in the real world by my hiring somebody else.

But every time I open a browser window these days there’s an ad or three for the guy I know I’ll never deal with again. And while I may take some satisfaction that this SOB is wasting whatever fraction of a penny Google is charging to put him in my line of sight on a regular basis, it’s annoying to be constantly reminded of him while I’m trying to watch midget orgy porn.

Once again, Google doesn’t know I’m no longer in the market. Nor, apparently, despite all their demographic data, have they discerned the first clue on what I look for in the people providing my goods and services.

Now please don’t assume this is something that keeps me up at night or has me questioning whether to hang onto my Google shares. In a way, it’s rather comforting.

Because in addition to Google’s off-side ads, I’m daily bombarded with social media traffic warning me that the machines are slowly taking over. That Jason Kenney or Eric Holder knows exactly what I’m writing and emailing and Skype-ing about. That pollsters know how much I care about an issue and how I’m going to vote.

And it’s just not true.

I think it’s got something to do with free will…

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