Someone recently pointed me to this funny blog post entitled “15 Unfortunately Placed Ads” (Some of the content is a bit risqué).
The humor of the ad placements alone isn’t enough to warrant a blog post. Instead what interested me was the online ads were almost certainly placed by software attempting to match keywords.
One of the example is a Folgers Coffee ad placed next to an article entitled “Coffee Might Trigger Heart Attack in Some.” Folgers likely bought ads to be placed on Yahoo’s content network whenever the word “coffee” showed up. However, they probably wouldn’t chose to place their ad next to this story if given the opportunity to chose.
This is the danger of context-based advertising. The current filters are not smart enough to know whether or not the true context of the content is conducive to the advertising.
I wonder whether sites like Facebook will encounter this problem more frequently because it is just as likely that someone is going to be ranting about coffee as they are praising it. I imagine Google and the other leading advertising engines are already experimenting with ways to determine the positive or negative nature of the content.
I think we’ll see a lot more ads with unfortunate placement before the technology progresses to the point where it can be prevented automatically.