Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The life and death of chickens : targetted advertising hits a snag

Four degrees at 8:30am. Soggy. And smoggy - the low-lying clouds are dripping with the smoke of Cannobio's many wood-burning stufe.

Another chicken was taken by the damn hawk at the weekend, but at least M was close enough to wrangle the dead bird out of the hawk’s claws, pluck it and have it in the fridge before you could say Chicken Little.

If you’ve been reading a while, you’ll know that we like our chickens a lot, we try to feed them organic, non-medicated feeds, give them a decent place to live, a daily forage in the woods and a quick, fear-free end.

If you’ve been reading a while and have a good memory, you may remember that at one point for a few days this weblog bore the emblem of Google AdSense, which supposedly matches the content of the site with advertisers, and pays the site producer (i.e. me) an unspecified amount per hit (on the advertiser site, not the blog). The idea is that if you’re reading this particular content, you’re more likely to be interested in the advertising the computer matches it with.

What’s the connection? Read on.

The first targetted advertising that appeared on A View from Carmine Superiore was for IVF treatment, I suppose tagging on to the label Mother-over-40. No problem. Next we got something on some cosmetic surgery clinic offering breast implants – I guess after I wrote about breast feeding. Hmmm. Tenuous, but still not a problem.

Finally, I wrote about our beloved chickens. Google AdSense picked up the word chicken and went into overdrive. We were instantly treated to the details of a Dutch company that sells second-hand equipment for the mass slaughter of battery-reared birds – equipment capable of “dealing with” 2,000 plus birds per hour. Nice stuff. Not!

I’m telling you this now because today at scuola materna AJ will be watching a cartoon of the story of Chicken Little. I was searching the Web, hoping to remind myself of how the story goes so that we could do some preparation (rather like reading the synopsis of the Italian opera you’re about to see so that you can at least follow the goings-on if not all the words). And lo and behold there it was again! Beside the description of this well-loved children’s story, we have Ads-by-Google Dutch-Company-Selling-Chicken-Slaughter-Equipment. Hmmm.

Now I know that a computer can only do so much of the work of a human, and differentiating a website that clearly is pro the humane treatment of animals and one that discusses factory farming in a positive light is clearly beyond the program’s coding. It sees the word ‘chicken’, and ‘thousands of cruelly-slaughtered chickens per hour’ is what you get.

Google AdSense? Google NonSense!

I can see only two remedies, one for Google AdSense and one for me. Google could make it a policy to turn away advertisers that may cause offence in easily foreseeable contexts. Like this one. And if that’s unthinkable, Louise could overcome her avarice and turn off Google AdSense.

And that’s just what I did.

3 comments:

A World of Wine said...

Hi found your blog today and enjoyed it, Im in Como. We often visit maggiore. perhaps we should link not many of us up north
I though you may want to read a comment on this unrelated blog I write about adsense today.
cheers D
http://www.digitalmoneyworld.com/adsense-nonsense-makes-no-sense/

Vanessa said...

It's called 'artificial intelligence' but sometimes I wonder!

Brenda said...

How interesting.

Cold weather in Italy, thats not how I imagine Italy.

I found your blog on BPOTW, but will be coming back.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The life and death of chickens : targetted advertising hits a snag

Four degrees at 8:30am. Soggy. And smoggy - the low-lying clouds are dripping with the smoke of Cannobio's many wood-burning stufe.

Another chicken was taken by the damn hawk at the weekend, but at least M was close enough to wrangle the dead bird out of the hawk’s claws, pluck it and have it in the fridge before you could say Chicken Little.

If you’ve been reading a while, you’ll know that we like our chickens a lot, we try to feed them organic, non-medicated feeds, give them a decent place to live, a daily forage in the woods and a quick, fear-free end.

If you’ve been reading a while and have a good memory, you may remember that at one point for a few days this weblog bore the emblem of Google AdSense, which supposedly matches the content of the site with advertisers, and pays the site producer (i.e. me) an unspecified amount per hit (on the advertiser site, not the blog). The idea is that if you’re reading this particular content, you’re more likely to be interested in the advertising the computer matches it with.

What’s the connection? Read on.

The first targetted advertising that appeared on A View from Carmine Superiore was for IVF treatment, I suppose tagging on to the label Mother-over-40. No problem. Next we got something on some cosmetic surgery clinic offering breast implants – I guess after I wrote about breast feeding. Hmmm. Tenuous, but still not a problem.

Finally, I wrote about our beloved chickens. Google AdSense picked up the word chicken and went into overdrive. We were instantly treated to the details of a Dutch company that sells second-hand equipment for the mass slaughter of battery-reared birds – equipment capable of “dealing with” 2,000 plus birds per hour. Nice stuff. Not!

I’m telling you this now because today at scuola materna AJ will be watching a cartoon of the story of Chicken Little. I was searching the Web, hoping to remind myself of how the story goes so that we could do some preparation (rather like reading the synopsis of the Italian opera you’re about to see so that you can at least follow the goings-on if not all the words). And lo and behold there it was again! Beside the description of this well-loved children’s story, we have Ads-by-Google Dutch-Company-Selling-Chicken-Slaughter-Equipment. Hmmm.

Now I know that a computer can only do so much of the work of a human, and differentiating a website that clearly is pro the humane treatment of animals and one that discusses factory farming in a positive light is clearly beyond the program’s coding. It sees the word ‘chicken’, and ‘thousands of cruelly-slaughtered chickens per hour’ is what you get.

Google AdSense? Google NonSense!

I can see only two remedies, one for Google AdSense and one for me. Google could make it a policy to turn away advertisers that may cause offence in easily foreseeable contexts. Like this one. And if that’s unthinkable, Louise could overcome her avarice and turn off Google AdSense.

And that’s just what I did.

3 comments:

A World of Wine said...

Hi found your blog today and enjoyed it, Im in Como. We often visit maggiore. perhaps we should link not many of us up north
I though you may want to read a comment on this unrelated blog I write about adsense today.
cheers D
http://www.digitalmoneyworld.com/adsense-nonsense-makes-no-sense/

Vanessa said...

It's called 'artificial intelligence' but sometimes I wonder!

Brenda said...

How interesting.

Cold weather in Italy, thats not how I imagine Italy.

I found your blog on BPOTW, but will be coming back.