Saturday, June 21, 2008

Google Website Trends

Originally uploaded by mild_swearwords
Noticed that Google have changed their trends project to include websites.
This is a really good move as it gives us access to numbers that aren't solely based on Comscore or Hitwise's slightly suspect methodologies.
However Google haven't been entirely transparent about their own.
The above little bit of the graph shows the other sites that people visit from the Guardian.
The most interesting bit is that the site that's most visited is This is due to iframe tags that must sit somewhere on the Guardian, serving people's ads from Atlas.
This shows some of the technology that Google is using. If they were collecting data purely from searches, they would not see this. The only way they could know that people were receiving traffic from would be if they were tracking where people went through some kind of tool that intercepted and monitored their webtraffic.
Now just look on your own explorer window and see if you have the google toolbar. If you have it, you've got a little friend who could be reporting all your web views back to Google central.
Google do disclose the fact that they monitor 'anonymous usage statistics'. The fact that they also track other websites that you visit means that they are keeping hold of who is who and also keeping a history of your web browsing.
This data is now easily and quickly searchable within the trends interface. It won't be long before they're offering me ways to target you through the adsense platform.
There'll be an uproar when that does happen, but I strongly suspect there's a beta test looking at how it works right now.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Malcolm.

    If an advertiser could target someone using this data, would Google be keeping to its word that the data was anonymous? I guess so technically, as the advertiser still doesn't know the user's name.

    I don't think it's quite as 'bad' as ISPs selling their data to ad exchanges for targeting. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because we pay ISPs, so we think they shouldn't be exploiting us in other ways.

    But you're right, this will probably cause more of an uproar because it's everybody's friend, Google.