So I just saw the following ad banner. I reproduce it here in the belief that such reproduction for purposes of editorial critique constitutes fair use.
My first thought after reading the ad was: "Stubbly McMonobrow probably has lots of extra money because he doesn't spend it on tweezers or shaving razors."
Considering all the other quirky ads I'd seen through the Project Wonderful network, I figured this might lead to something funny. It was just a "make money by writing articles" e-book (need-extra-cash.net - not linking it or recommending it, but since it's their ad, I figured I needed to credit it). What a bummer. The ad that looked like it was for a "make money now" product really was for one... as opposed to my hope that it was some hip, tongue-in-cheek parody of such ads and led to a treasure trove of cool stuff.
On the other hand, it did get my attention, even if it was just to ridicule it. And with my luck, the guy in the ad's probably one of my few readers and now totally offended at my comment about his grooming.
Those of you who were interested saw the preliminary data from Tracer. Well, the longer-term data didn't change significantly and I've decided to remove Tracer from the site.
Even I found the "read more at" links added to any text I copied in to be a pain in the butt after a while. Most of the time I just had to remove it because it wasn't appropriate to the e-mail or document I was composing. So that was the downside.
As for the upside... the very limited reporting and inability to mine the data with any depth limited its utility. The utility was further limited by the severe lack of documentation to help you interpret and understand even the "just scratching the surface" information that Tracer provides. And based on their linkback data for the top 20 pages, the "read more at" addition to the clipboard on copies wasn't providing me with any extra backlinks.
Do I see a potential benefit in it if they were to document it better and beef up the "drill down" functionality of their reporting? Yes. Do I see it getting wider adoption if they make the "read more at" clipboard insert optional based on the site owner's preferences? Yes.
Mainly Tracer just confirmed some suspicions but didn't provide many surprises. Overall, it's promising, but it needs a round or two of upgrades to both its interface and its documentation before it's really a prime time tool for webmasters.
So, while up on baby-watching duty, I decided to drop by the Tracer site and check out my stats for the first day and a half or so. Mostly my expectations were in line with the results.
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When one of Google's very public faces, Matt Cutts tweeted about a Firefox plugin to opt out of not only Google's new "interest-based" advertising targeting scheme, but those of a number of other ad networks, I started to think about how well (or not well) such targeting has worked in other applications.
The first meme that popped into my mind was "My Tivo Thinks I'm Gay", the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal that garnered a lot of commentary in the blogosphere and elsewhere when it first ran. Basically, the conclusion of the article and my own experience was that trying to identify your interests from the shows you watch, the books you buy, or the sites you visit only works when you're boring, single, and predictable. If you've got more than one person using the tracked account or your viewing/surfing habits are rather whim-based, you'll only confuse the robots into recommending stuff you wouldn't watch/read/click in a zillion years.
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