Contextual Targeting

I decided to put Google Adsense on my blog today. You will surely notice it at the top right of the page. It’s not pretty and you can’t miss it.

Why did I do this? To make a few bucks? No, but I’ll get to the money part later.

I did it because I am very interested in the technology that Google and others are using to direct targeted advertising. I want to see what kinds of ads my pages will attract. The first set of ads were pretty solid. We had a VC conference in San Francisco in June, another VC conference in Philly next week, a service that helps you find a co-founder for your startup, and a service that helps you find investors for your startups. That’s pretty good.

The second batch of ads were blogging related; an ad for my hosting service TypePad (which i like, but they are having some performance issues right now), a web hosting service, a blog news service from the New York Times (that’s pretty interesting – the grey lady is advertising on my blog!!), and a free RSS reader.

I’ll stop now. You all get the point. I want to see how good this targeting technology really is. I’ve had the experience of seeing ads for “Indian Sweethearts” on articles about Indian offshoring, so we all know this stuff doesn’t work so great just yet. But I think technology-based targeting its the future of advertising and contextual is one of the most talked about methods right now. So I’m interested and playing around with it.

So what about the money? I don’t need the money that these ads will generate. But someone does. And so I’ve selected The Grameen Foundation USA as the benificiary of all the money that Ad Sense will generate on this blog. The Grameen Foundation is a very cool thing. They provide tiny loans, called “micro-credit” to poor women all over the developing world. The women use these loans to start businesses such as farming, making food, tailoring, etc. I took the following from their website:

Twenty-five years later, Grameen Bank has 2.4 million borrowers, 94% of whom are women, and has loaned more than $3.7 billion in amounts averaging less than $200. Grameen Foundation USA was established in 1997 to provide financing, technical assistance and technology support to the growing numbers of grassroots institutions that are successfully replicating Grameen Bank’s success in countries as diverse as Malaysia, India, Uganda, Mexico and the United States.

My friend Mary told me about Grameen. Mary is working with them on a program called The Phone Ladies. They give $300 loans to women in Bangladesh and Uganda. With those loans the women purchase a mobile phone, a small antenna and a battery or solar panel. The lady then becomes the phone booth in her village. People come to the door of her shack and pay her to use her phone. It is a real win-win. The woman makes a better life for her family than she ever imagined and gains respect in the community. The mobile phone company has a new distribution network. The village has a means of communication they never had before. They no longer need to ride a donkey 25 miles to a doctor or to find out what market is offering a better price for rice.

So watch these ads with me. See how well Google targets. And click on them please. Because every time you click, you’ll be helping some poor woman in the developing world make a better life for herself and her family. And that’s a good thing.

#VC & Technology