We all know that the ‘Sponsored Links’ in Gmail are Google’s famous “contextually relevant” ads, presented to you based on the content of the e-mail being viewed, your search history (if authenticated while searching), and all that smart pidgeon power.

Over my years of gmail use I’ve built up a sort of sub-concious classification of ads that I see (or expect to see):

  • things which are clearly related to the e-mail I’m viewing (ie “Discount tyres!” in an email like “Damn, my front tyre is bald, I can’t go.”).
  • things which are loosely related to the e-mail but related to my overall search patterns and e-mail history with recipient(s).
  • and less frequently spam-like ads like “Double your salary in 3 weeks!” which seem to not match either of the above criteria.

I usually don’t pay much attention to the ads, but I do notice ones which don’t really fall within a classification I’ve come to expect.

Sometimes I notice ads which seem very irrelevant; they don’t match my search/internet usage, content in the current e-mail, or content in previous e-mails (as far as I can remember). And they don’t really fit the typical spam-like ads (“double your salary”, “instant degrees”, “make happy your girl with large man stamina”, etc).

So I wonder why Google’s trained pidgeons gave me these ads? Whenever I’ve bothered to investigate a little bit, I have found the email content is quite keyword-unfriendly (such as, “Ok cool I’ll catch you round by 8” or simple messages like that), and that the other recipient in the conversation is a gmail/google account… so I wonder if the out-of-place ads I’m seeing are based on the ‘googleprint’ of the other person(s) in the conversation.

Oooo, aaaah. Of course it’s just as plausable that it’s my own stupid perception, so I’ll wait for some solid research, or at couple of people agreeing with me :-p

It is veery convincing though… Why, after 4 years of Gmail’ing and searching with a Google Account, would the Google pidgeons suddenly present me with ads for a makeover, brazillian wax, and day spas when I’ve never searched, received or sent an e-mail of anything remotely like that… and showing these ads for the first time when I receive an e-mail from someone I’ve just met, who has a Gmail account. Veery suspicious, maybe a reliable test would be to buy this person a session at a day spa? hahaha.