Now if you're ever wondering where I am or why I'm not posting here, you know where to check. [I am about halfway through a serious post, but that might not get done today after all.] This is an actual screenshot, no retouching involved. I put some even better ones into my Flickr account
for your enjoyment.
(Whenever I hear about advertising revenues paying the bills for free online services, I am doubtful. But search for '95%' in Google's stock market filing
and you'll see that my doubt is unfounded. I'm still incredulous. I find ads easy to overlook. It's not hard to read into this eyetracking chart
that I'm not the only one who has learned to avoid them. If an ad catches my attention, I'm usually annoyed enough to keep my clicker far away from it. The fact that Google's ads are text-based might help them out, according to another eyetracking study
. Yet Google's targeted ads often seem too shady to merit following. Try searching for 'mp3', 'loans' or 'love', and you'll get some of the best of the worst.
If I seem condescending, let me admit that once I did buy some cables and connectors from a store I found through a targeted ad. There's a movie I'd like to see sometime (Good Night, and Good Luck) that I first discovered by following a skyscraper ad on a website. Sometimes reading ads gives me a strangely comforting feeling of connectedness, getting to see what corporations are trying to sell other people nowadays. Though four years ago when I switched one of my webmail accounts' language to Spanish, my main feeling was relief: Pepsi and Britney Spears weren't advertising much in the Hispanic market.
No matter how much better Google gets at choosing ads, I hope the days of hand-picked, human-approved ad placement don't go away too soon.)