Careful, Google Is Listening

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This ad appeared immediately after a VERBAL discussion about health insurance.

This ad appeared immediately after a VERBAL discussion about health insurance.

I had two very odd encounters with Google ads yesterday. It’s common for Google to push ads based on emails, as Microsoft helpfully pointed out in their “Scroogled” campaign. But usually those ads appear because of something in your email or search history. That doesn’t explain the ads I saw yesterday, as they were dead-on accurate to conversations I had held over iMessage and in person … not through Google.

First, Sarah went out of town this weekend and left me a list of to-dos around the house. One of them was to straighten the large area rug in the living room. Easy enough to do, and after I fixed it I shot her a quick text saying it was done. I then went on to a bunch of other errands, and finally crashed out last night to check my email. Across the top of Gmail was an ad for … area rugs. It was definitely an odd coincidence, but I shrugged off as a freak thing.

These are the ads the Gear Diary editors got after I shared my area rug story with them,

These are the ads the Gear Diary editors got after I shared my area rug story with them. I had the same ones, but they appeared BEFORE I sent an email about them.

Fast forward to later last night. A friend of mine dropped by to hang out, and the subject turned to the Powerball lottery. We started discussing how much we’d need to win to retire. Both of us agreed that less than $5-6 million was not enough to quit our jobs, since after taxes it wouldn’t be more than a very nice nest egg. Helpful if you’re about to retire, but since we’re both in our 30’s we would not be able to stretch that money for the rest of our lives without work. My friend also pointed out that even if we won more, it might be prudent to keep some sort of employment solely for health insurance. We discussed a few other random things, and then she headed out for the night. I checked my email before bed, and what was the ad this time? For health insurance.

Now, both of these were no doubt random coincidences. But the likelihood of two ads aimed at discussions I’d had away from Google immediately before I saw the ads? That’s a bit too accurate … as Judie pointed out, this is like something out of “1984”; is Google documenting our “thoughtcrimes”?

Have you had any particularly odd/accurate Google ads? Is Google listening? Share your experiences in the comments!

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About the Author

Carly Z
Carly has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to her first PDA (a Palm M100). She quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. She loves writing about ebooks because they combine her two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?