Thanks to Michael Zimmer for a recent posting on his Thinking About Technology blog, which points to two pending Google patents.
When Gmail first came out, many commentators found the idea of targeted advertising based on keywords in e-mail messages to be weird and intrusive. (See Gmail Privacy FAQ from EPIC, Thirty-One Privacy and Civil Liberties Organizations Urge Google to Suspect Gmail, Gmail is too creepy.) The new technology that Google is working on would target ads to users based on searches and websites that the user has visited in the past.
From the pending applications:
United States Patent Application: 0050222901:
"Determining ad targeting information and/or ad creative information using past search queries
Ad information, such as ad targeting keywords and/or ad creative content for example, may be determined using aggregated selected document-to-query information associations. For example, popular terms and/or phrases also associated with a selected document may be used as ad targeting keywords and/or ad creative content for an ad having the document as a landing page. Query information may be tracked on a per document level, a per domain level, etc. The determined ad information may be used to automatically populate an ad record, or may be provided to an advertiser as suggested or recommended ad information. "
United States Patent Application: 0050222989:
"Results based personalization of advertisements in a search engine
Personalized advertisements are provided to a user using a search engine to obtain documents relevant to a search query. The advertisements are personalized in response to a search profile that is derived from personalized search results. The search results are personalized based on a user profile of the user providing the query. The user profile describes interests of the user, and can be derived from a variety of sources, including prior search queries, prior search results, expressed interests, demographic, geographic, psychographic, and activity information. "
Read Michael Zimmer's posting here: Thinking About Technology: Google Files for Behavioral Targeting Patents.