Dr Mumbo

Peter van Onselen versus the modern world

Dr Mumbo loves nothing more than somebody getting on their high horse about ads on websites and inadvertently revealing their own browsing habits.

A fortnight ago, there was a splendid example from the UK when Conservative MP Gavin Barwell derided ads inviting him to “date Arab girls” appearing next to a Labour Party press release. Labour quickly pointed out that the ads on TwitLonger were delivered via Google Adsense, based on past behaviours and preferences of the user.

Today comes a similar piece of techno buffoonery from Sunday Telegraph columnist Peter van Onselen. Taking former 2UE presenter Mike Smith to task over his website Michael Smith News, PVO wrote: “But what interested me most about who chooses to advertise with Smith was when I saw a government ad, about education if my memory serves me correctly. I’ve always had a problem with the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on government spin, but now I have a fresh reason to consider it a waste.”

Smith quickly took to his website, explaining for PVO how the internet works: “When I sell space on my web-site to Google, it’s Google who decides what ad to present to my readers – thus your kind insight into your own interests in flights, brand new cars, business support services, stock-broking services and the Federal Government’s education ‘reforms’.

Luckily van Onselen had been shown ads for nothing more racy than Flight Center and Subaru. As Smith pointed out: “I’m relieved you didn’t use your column to berate me for promoting singles, dating services or other services tending to proclivities that are even more complicated to explain Peter. With Google, as with complex frauds or even the diss-ing of one’s subscription audience – every touch leaves its trace.”


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