Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Festival (Day Nine): Pesky Foreigners Invade Your Browser

Mercury rules things like logic, math, and algorithms.... for most of us, the boring, behind the scenes details that actually make the Internet work. If you've spent much time on The Series Of Tubes over the last few years, you've probably noticed that not only are there as many ads as ever cluttering cyberspace, they've gotten a little more personalized. You see... I don't pretend to understand how it all works, but apparently Google knows all and sees all, and is able to base the ads it shows you based on what you're seeing or what you've looked at in the recent past, or whatever. Something like that.

Of course it's easy enough to write a program that reads the same words you read, and comes up with ads based on those words. That's why your online shopping for Egyptian Cotton bed sheets will get you ads for tours of the pyramids, or looking for items about "unemployment" will recommend more Facebook games. Anyone who has a GMail account knows the phenomenon.

Mercury is retrograde right now, and it seems to me that the whole Google Ads process may be a little wonkier than usual. It wasn't until yesterday that I was convinced of the effects of the retrograde on even simple software algorithms.

You see, ever since I moved to my new neighborhood, I've developed a fondness for (and fascination with) Mexican culture. And specifically, I've developed a fondness for this song:

...So, given where you can already imagine my sympathies lie with the current Immigration Reform debate, and the "show us your papers" law in Arizona, imagine my surprise to get THIS ad on Youtube, which I did a screen capture of and am positing here, largely as proof to myself that I wasn't really ad for Steve Poizner, who is a candidate for California Governor, and who I hadn't heard of until this ad cropped up... giving me the opportunity to do some research and find out just how not-my-kinda-guy he is.

Anyone who knows me, or has read my blog for long, can guess where I stand on the Big Immigration Debate. And Google Ads is, apparently, just smart enough to get it completely wrong, thus wasting my time and the advertiser's money

Most of these ads don't cost the advertiser that much, but cost the advertiser much more if you click on them. So from now on, whenever something like this comes up now, I open it a new windows. Lots of them. Then I clear my cache and complain.

Next Mercury Retrograde project? Trying to convince Facebook Ads that just because Mitt Romney is a fan of torturing his dog, I'm not a fan of his.



Matthew The Astrologer said...

Next Mercury Retrograde: August 20th. The first episode of "Conquer The Universe With Astrology: The Radio Show": August 19th.

Whew. :)

Stay tuned to this blog for further details!

Matthew The Astrologer said...

NOTE: I won't be previewing my blog entries here from now on. Better get over there and subscribe to the RSS feed before you miss anything!

Matthew The Astrologer said...

Head over to and read the whole series... and ALL my new stuff... for free!