Personalized Google ads

20 Jul

A colleague who’s really into Google AdWords showed me a great example of personalized Google ads. In some cases, Google shows ads that are related to your previous search queries. It even works when all cookies are deleted and you aren’t signed in to your Google account or whatever. The searches must be executed in the same window, however.

Let’s say I’m looking for the weather forecast. When I search for “weather forecast“, I’ll get these results (click to enlarge):

What if the next thing I’m looking for is a “Holiday to Spain“?

Now let’s see what happens to the ads if I enter “weather forecast” in the search box again?

Hmm, the first ad looks really targeted to me. Let’s see if we can get personalized ads on other queries as well.

My girlfriend’s birthday is in a two weeks, and because I’m a really cheap bastard, I’m looking for a “sale” somewhere.

Oh wait, I almost forgot, I need a new “LCD monitor“:

Hmm, back to the search for a birthday present again. Enter “sale“, hit GO:

That’s 3 really targeted ads. Looks like Google’s getting smarter by the minute…

Update 1: Ben Murphy also noticed it and it seems to happen with AdSense ads as well.

Update 2: Google sent SEL a reaction with some more info about this:
“What you’re seeing is that we look at the user’s previous query and see how well it intersects with the current query. If it’s significant, we’ll use it to help targeting on the current query. We simply look at what’s in the referring URL (every time you load a web page, the HTTP header includes your previous URL as the “referrer”).”

31 Responses to “Personalized Google ads”

  1. Ben Murphy July 20, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    I’ve noticed this too. Ran the same kind of tests over at

    Good to see the word is getting out.

  2. Adam Sharp July 21, 2007 at 7:27 am #

    Interesting stuff, thanks. It’s crazy to think about the levels of “personalization” Google could achieve if/when they add Doubleclick’s data to theirs.

  3. Erika July 23, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    This was a good post! I am totally sure Google has a lot to roll out this Fall.

    Keep watching!

  4. Wiep July 23, 2007 at 8:49 pm #

    @Ben: I’ve added your examples to the post as well

    @Adam: Google + Doubleclick + Feedburner + … = …

    @Erika: Thx, I’ll keep watching ;)

  5. Tracey July 24, 2007 at 1:04 pm #

    Personalised search is a great feature – It’s sure to benefit users, google and adwords advertisers alike.

  6. Rodjer July 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm #

    Damn they are indeed getter smarter and smarter.. how long will this take to be fully active ? Btw I see the benefit of it and ofcourse they saw that too ;-)

  7. Matt Ellsworth August 2, 2007 at 3:28 am #

    WOW – thats crazy. No wonder my ads always seem kind of targetted… Think that means that the adsense ads I see on my site are different than the ones that ohers see?

  8. aflossingsvrije January 4, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    I have already seen this is action. They tryed it for some time, but now i have the feeling it is permanent ? Anyone agrees with me ?

  9. geld lenen February 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Well well… this is not only in searching if you ask me. When I visit i.e. a site about loans the next adds on other pages (Google AdSense) are still about that. Strange but true.

    Anyone else recognizes this?

  10. Geoserv April 19, 2008 at 1:52 am #


    Very cool.

    VOTED for you at:

  11. Richard November 14, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    wow i had no idea it did that. Makes sence really, clever system google uses there.

  12. Jasper November 23, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    Good to use for marketing, but for the user also a lot of waste. Shows very much not related websites too, with a header wich do suggest that the website sell the stuff what you are looking for. greetz, V

  13. A. Kling March 26, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    Interesting. Had not noticed it.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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    Looks like other people are seeing the session oriented personalized ads…

    Just found this on sphinn : – another example with the same kind of writeup I did last week – pretty obvious they’re rolling this out as a new feature now. Anybody else get a chance to try this ye…

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