Early Morning Open Thread: Targeted Ads

Our blog ad server targets individual viewers to some extent. Not just our ad server, of course — everyone’s. This was demonstrated for me vividly awhile back after I purchased a niche gift book for my sister and sister-in-law’s anniversary and the Internet assumed I was a lesbian for several weeks afterward.

It’s a really imprecise targeting filter, though. We’re buying a new truck and have been doing copious research online to try to find the best deal. So what ad did the WordPress server deliver? Ferrari. No, really. Here’s what we’re actually looking at:

It’s a gas hog, but we have robust towing requirements and need that mighty V-8. What’s on your agenda today?

78 replies
  1. 1
    Phylllis says:

    Knocking off one of two work days for the week and making the Bourbon Brown Sugar bundt cake from Southern Living to take to the hubby’s family for Thanksgiving.

  2. 2
    dr. bloor says:

    It wasn’t the server that put the Ferrari ads on your screen. Dorito and the ladies have decided they need a real ride.

    That’s a hella tank you’re looking at there. Put a rifle rack and some stars-n-bars in the window, and your neighbors will never guess your an islamofascist commie libtard.

  3. 3
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I’m working today but taking the rest of the week off. Not traveling out of town, just ready for some down time and a chance to catch up on all the home stuff I’ve been neglecting for weeks.

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    That truck seems very Eco, as there is a large plant growing in the truck bed. Perhaps to instantly soak up the CO2 as it’s emitted? Or is that just Portable Mary Jane?

  5. 5
    bemused says:

    I’m happy Chip Cravaack isn’t following me around the web anymore.

  6. 6
    greennotGreen says:

    Do you really want a black truck in Florida?

  7. 7
    JCT says:

    Hey Betty- we had similar requirements and went diesel for our pickup , just hit 100k without a problem .

  8. 8
    Phylllis says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: We’re off to Columbus GA Wednesday morning & coming back Friday. It’s about a five-hour ride, including the always delightful 285 Atlanta bypass. Which I let him navigate while I am blissfully calm from a strategically ingested Ativan.

  9. 9
    PurpleGirl says:

    Today is laundry day.

  10. 10
    Ben Cisco says:

    Today, I am celebrating 50 years time in service on this planet.

    At work, because I didn’t want to spoil the “surprise” my coworkers have planned.

    It doesn’t feel any different (chasing jets for a number of years has had me feeling waaaaay older than 50 for quite some time now), but it sure sounds funny.

    Guess I’ll check out the invite AARP sent me – need to find out if they’re the good guys or if they’ve gone all Nathan Bedford Forrest what with the Muslin Usurper in the White House (insert ululations here).

  11. 11
    tofubo says:

    get the mighty v8 diesel version, boat-towing loads of torque and better mileage

  12. 12
    Phylllis says:

    @Ben Cisco: You get a free coffee with your donut at Dunkin’ Donuts. Just sayin’.

  13. 13
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @tofubo: Diesel is better mileage, but the price differential eats up a lot of the cost savings. Here in South PA I’d have to go from 35 mpg to 40-ish to break even, which is about what I’d get with a 4-cyl diesel, I think.

  14. 14
    danielx says:

    Repainting my niece’s bathroom, since she decided she didn’t like the color she picked out which I used to paint the room about two weeks ago (bless her heart). Of course my question was why she picked out this almost fluorescent green in the first place. Turned out like a room in which Kermit the Frog would be very happy, sort of like being inside an emerald in the right light (which isn’t nearly as attractive as it sounds).

    Ne’er mind, I said I’d be happy to paint it as many times as they were willing to pay me…

  15. 15
    Erehwon says:

    @Phylllis: You mean, you get a free donut with your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Just sayin’. Coffee costs more presumably! :-)

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    Betty Cracker @ Top:

    … the Internet assumed I was a lesbian for several weeks afterward.

    I never really mind all that much when the Internet assumes I’m a lesbian.


  17. 17
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Gas economy and towing are a close to impossible combination. Get which vehicle you really need — you are saving the planet with chickens!

    Our V-8 Tahoe with on demand 4 wheel drive (2 wheel mode saves gas) will celebrate its 10th birthday next month, and we are glad to have it. It has passed all of the state fuel emissions tests with flying colors.

    Hey, is that Costa Rica vacation ad because I read about the crazy MacAfee dude?

  18. 18
    PeakVT says:

    Renewing my driver’s license today. Joy.

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland:

    Hey, is that Costa Rica vacation ad because I read about the crazy MacAfee dude?

    Wouldn’t that be Belize then?


  20. 20
    aimai says:


    This makes me laugh. We have one of those tiny, no windows, half baths on our first floor. I had it painted (no, I can’t paint, why do you ask) a gorgeous gray and thought it would be like a kind of elegant, New York style, gray and black thing. Going in there was like going into a senory deprivation chamber on a battleship. Within a week I had picked out an incredible, vibrant, lime green–more surreal than carribean–and now people love to go in there. Two weeks is exactly the amount of time it would have taken her to get up the nerve to ask you for the favor again–she probably knew within one minue of walking in that it wasn’t working for her.


  21. 21
    Dana says:

    If you *don’t* want to see those ads, or have your browser slowed down by the dozens of back-end scripts that load them (and track you), install the following two browser plug-ins:

    adblock plus

    That’ll solve the problem.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    @greennotGreen: I’ve had dark and light cars, and I really don’t think it makes that much difference. A car of any color gets hotter than hell in the summer.

  23. 23
    bemused says:

    Kitty and I are watching the kitten livestream. Our kitty is fascinated.

  24. 24
    Gozer says:

    Just one day of work and then it’s vacationland and some blessed sleep.

  25. 25
    Paul in KY says:

    @Punchy: You only get that option in Washington & Colorado.

  26. 26
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ben Cisco: They loved GWB.

  27. 27
    Schlemizel says:

    Since the ad servers draws those conclusions from the history and cookies other sites store on your PC I always though it would be fun to place faked results in my browser so I can manipulate the ad server. I just don’t know what I could do that would cause it the most unhappiness

  28. 28
    greennotGreen says:

    There’s an advantage to targeted ads that I just thought of. I’ve recently started visiting a site that covers, among other topics, LGBT issues, and I’m a big believer in human rights. However, that does not mean I want to look at ads of not-entirely-flaccid men in their underwear. I’ve been shopping for a new couch; why can’t I just get furniture ads?

  29. 29
    Ramalama says:

    Don’t pick up trucks get better gas mileage these days? Or maybe it’s me being in Canada. My subaru Legacy (turbo) wagon was a dream to drive back when I commuted between Boston and Montreal every week, but now I see ads on tv rubbing it in that my car eats up gas more than the new big trucks.

  30. 30
    Schlemizel says:

    Go to amazon and to google and search on ‘sofa’. CLick a few of the shopping links and maybe even on some of the couch selections for good measure. That should take care of it.

    I carve Zuni fetishes as a hobby (small, stone representations of animals) I try really hard not to look at the ads after I have done any online stuff about this hobby because ad servers tend to focus on only one of those two words.

  31. 31
    Schlemizel says:

    Along that line of ad servers misunderstanding search terms or drawing the wrong conclusions:

    I have decided I wanted a turkey substitute for my Thanksgiving meal and have heard horror stories about flavor and consistency of the fakes. I did a lot of online research and two particular main dishes came out as clear winners.

    But for days afterwards I got a ton of PITA and other animal abuse groups and ‘earth first’ eco group ads. I’m probably on some Office of Fatherland Security watch list now.

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    Tech query. I have a number of text files I opened with Open Office some years ago. I am in the process of migrating from my knackered old Compaq notebook to a hot new Lenovo AMD with Windows 7 Pro — that has Microsoft Word and Excel and all that jazz. Before I copy over my files, as what sort of Microsoft Word document should I save them?

  33. 33
    tofubo says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    true, the past two months diesel has been more, but the previous two years, it’s been less than ‘regular’, getting better milege and paying less to boot

    oh, and you can make your own diesel, you can’t make your own 89 octane

  34. 34
    greennotGreen says:

    @Schlemizel: I gotcha there! I once tried searching for information on a friend’s medical condition; if information on a medical condition is what you want, do not search for “fistula” with safe search off!

  35. 35
    danielx says:


    This room has a BIG dormer window and nine foot ceilings; lots and lots of light….too much green! She originally picked out the first color a year ago and they never got around to painting it – she was fourteen then, she’s fifteen now. Teenage tastes change rapidly by all the evidence….

  36. 36

    Some good news from Politico this morning via Mike Allen on MJ. OFA is not giving up on its incredible data mining operation in fact it is doing the opposite. They are ramping it up for local races and the DNC as a whole as I understand it so our fears that it was not going to be used for the 2014 races and beyond appears to be unfounded.

  37. 37
    danielx says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Word is pretty omnivorous; try copying over one file ‘as is’ and then try to open it with Word. If it works, go ahead and copy over the others – no point opening and re-saving all those files on the old machine if you don’t have to.

  38. 38
    Disgruntled Lurker says:

    As others have noted, there is a lot to be said for a diesel engine. They run at lower RPMs and produce less heat. Hence the longer life expectancy.

    My work truck is a 1992 Isuzu NRR. 250k miles and still yet to have any kind of major mechanical issues. Of course, everything around the engine is starting to fall off, but you can duct tape that stuff back on.

  39. 39
    jeffreyw says:

    Drinking moar coffee. Waiting for an electrician to show up to fix my 3 way light switches so they work as intended and not how they are working after I replaced some wall parts. I see a kitty at the window wanting in, I will wait until she paws at the window and makes those cute clean window squeaky noises.

  40. 40
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I’d go with one of the microsoft ‘.doc’ options. Last I cared to look MS totally ignores the default OpenOffice formats but will swallow anything that presents itself as .doc


    UGH! artificial intelligence is neither!

  41. 41
    Schlemizel says:


    Please don’t tell Ed!

  42. 42
    jeffreyw says:

    … and now Mrs J wakes and the hounds break into a Hallelujah Chorus. She can make her own pot of coffee.

  43. 43
    Disgruntled Lurker says:


    you can’t make your own 89 octane

    This sounds like some kind of DIY challenge…

  44. 44
    Phylllis says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I responded to a survey this morning about that from OFA.

  45. 45
    JoyfulA says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Re OfA, I got an email this morning directing me to a long questionnaire about my work on the campaign this year, what I learned, and where OfA should be going in the future. They are apparently including everybody even tangentially involved in the campaign, since I have been physically nonfunctional since May.

  46. 46
    Schlemizel says:


    I have ghostery and at times its a bigger PItA than the ads! It insists on showing me a list of every script, blocked or not, on every page I go to. Love the blocking (its customizable so I can support places like BJ) but hate the reporting.

  47. 47
    rdldot says:

    @Ben Cisco: I joined AARP after I heard some wingnut say they were a far left-wing organization, and I said to myself ‘well, I need to join up then’. Already a card-carrying member of the ACLU so, why not? And they really are pretty progressive, but always protecting the older folks’ interests.

  48. 48
    Schlemizel says:


    Getting this made me happy. It makes me think they care what we think, that we can improve from experience and that the efforts of OFA go far beyond just ‘O’ and really FA!

    It may just be schadenfreude hangover but that survey made me think very happy thoughts about 2014 & beyond.

  49. 49
    fuddmain says:

    @Schlemizel: You can stop that pop-up in the advanced settings tab.

  50. 50
    Schlemizel says:

    Hrumpfff! I have been looking for that but couldn’t find it. Thanks!

  51. 51
    gogol's wife says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    Happy Birthday. I get annoyed at AARP sometimes, and their magazine depresses the hell out of me, but I was so proud to be a member when they booed Paul Ryan. They’re usually pretty good on the issues.

  52. 52
    rdldot says:

    @Paul in KY: They may have been ok with him until he started talking about SS reform, but after that, not so much. They look after the interest of the older folks – that’s their job.

  53. 53
    Ramalama says:

    @gogol’s wife: Martina Navratilova as an AARP rep is just icing on the cake.

  54. 54
    Phylllis says:

    @Schlemizel: I focused on the need to work in states like South Carolina and not just write them off. There are a lot of progressives in these states who would love to dig in and make a difference. I pointed out how well Gloria Tinubu did in the newly-drawn district along the coast, much to the surprise of Repubs and Dems alike.

  55. 55
    1badbaba3 says:

    @Ben Cisco: Many happy returns, Cap’n, and thank you for your service to the Federation. Also too, don’t believe the kind words of the Lady in the funny hat (not a nice Lady).

    Is it wrong to say I like you better than JLP and Tiberius?

  56. 56
    handsmile says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    Happy Birthday and welcome to the sixth decade! What with all your “chasing jets” I hope you still have the lung capacity to blow out all the candles.

    But I must say how disturbed I was reading the last sentence in your comment. Is it true that the Kenyan Socialist is not content merely to destroy the “USA! USA!” economy, but he’s also stealing the White House bedclothes and curtains? That bastard!

  57. 57
    jake the snake says:

    Why would I be getting MILF/Cougar ads? That and Filapina
    mail order brides.

  58. 58
    1badbaba3 says:

    @jake the snake: Have you been watching the Malkin cheerleader vida over at Tbogg’s place? I must admit to that guilty pleasure myself. Now with extra schadenfreude berries.

  59. 59
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Disgruntled Lurker:

    Of course, everything around the engine is starting to fall off, but you can duct tape that stuff back on.

    Heh. Sounds like my personal conveyance, which is an aging Beetle. We were pondering whether to trade the 10-year-old truck or even older Beetle in when we get the new truck, and we decided to keep the Beetle because the engine is a damn marvel, even if the rest of it is falling apart.

  60. 60
    kindness says:

    Betty you might want to consider the Dodge Ram 2500 with the Cummings diesel engine. It’s a turbo 6 and is really a nice truck.

  61. 61
    J R in WV says:

    I tow a backhoe with an F-350, (2008) and have been thinking about trying a three-quarter ton. Is that a dodge truck at the top?

    They have a rep for the Cummins engine being great and everything else failing after a couple of years. I heard about a guy towing a big tool on I 10 and having the dash fall on his lap!

    Ford diesels are now built by Ford, and I’ve talked with a guy with a diesel 250 getting better than 20 mpg… makes me real jealous, although my current truck will pull a stump if it has traction. But 16 without the hoe, 10-12 with the hoe.

  62. 62
    Origuy says:

    Some people need a big truck on a daily basis, but I wonder how many would be better off renting one when they really need it? I see a lot of big pickups driving around with nothing in them. I doubt many truck buyers figure out the break-even point.

    If you have to tow a lot, though, you can’t go small. I used to get a motorcycle carrier for my friend’s electric wheelchair and tow it with my CR-V. It was under the listed capacity but I still struggled up the hills.

  63. 63
    Betty Cracker says:

    @J R in WV: It’s a F-250, but gas rather than diesel. Re: the dash falling in that guy’s lap — Oh. My. God!

    @kindness: I was trying to get the mister to look at the Rams, but he is a Ford man to the core. My dad is a Dodge guy (and also in a business that requires him to haul lots of stuff). My only requirement is that I can plug my MP3 into the stereo…

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @rdldot: I will look into them again then. Thanks!

  65. 65
    Bostondreams says:

    Back from Seattle, heading to Tampa to be with my dad. My mom passed two Sundays ago after a painful and short battle with cancer at age 64, and he isn’t doing well. :(

  66. 66
    FourTen says:

    If you need a truck with four doors, you don’t need a truck. Have the dignity to prove your manhood by buying an orange Mustang like I did.

  67. 67
    Schlemizel says:


    GEE! too bad nobody ever thought a 50 state strategy might be a good idea.

    Its not that the party is messed up in the brain-pan, its the leaders that could use an enema!

  68. 68
    Schlemizel says:


    oh god, I am so sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to lose a spouse. My mom hung on for about 7 years after my dad died, it had not been an entirely happy marriage but they loved each other & after 60 some years it was very hard on mom.

    Plus you have your own lose & grief to deal with. I hope you and your dad can take some happy memories and heal quickly.

  69. 69
    Tonal Crow says:

    Aaaaand Teh Crazy continues. Murdoch:
    Can’t Obama stop his friends in Egypt shelling Israel?

  70. 70
    Maude says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    In OO, you can save as .doc
    Word will handle them fine. You can also download OO if you like.
    If it is a Starter Word, go with OO.
    I have a Lenovo laptop and it is wondrous.

  71. 71
    BigHank53 says:

    The whole diesel-or-not thing depends how how much towing you’ll be doing. It’s not hard to push the MPG into single digits with a gas truck and a trailer. My 2000 lb camper would cut our old tow vehicle’s mileage by 30-50%, depending on the hills. The Dodge diesel has never turned less than 17mpg with the trailer, even when towing through West (by God) Virgina. At 75 miles per hour.

    If the towing is something you don’t need often (getting a boat back and forth to a nearby lake) then you’ll be fine with gasoline. If you know you’ll be doing thousands of miles of towing, find someone who’s towing something similar and see what they use. We could justify the higher cost of the diesel because (a) we’re only putting a few thousand miles a year on it, so (b) we won’t be replacing it for at least a decade, and (c) we’re not filling up that 35 gallon tank all that often. Also, (d) we bought used.

  72. 72
    Quicksand says:

    This is a good time to link to the seminal work on the subject, about a TiVo/Amazon thinking users are gay/pregnant/whatever. From ten (!) years ago. My god I’m old.


    At least I think this is the article I remember — it’s behind the paywall. Grr.

  73. 73
    opie_jeanne says:

    Buying apples for pies and cheese for the pre-dinner nibbles, and hoping to find Brussels sprouts still on the stem, which is always impressive. I’ll roast those on Thursday. My daughter’s boyfriend is bringing the turkey and roasting it on the grill but we’re doing everything else.

    And today starts the Serious Cleaning.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Used to be a fleet manager and when I started we ran Ford trucks with gas. Switched over to diesel and got about 50% better mileage. Diesel tows better because of the torque, which is much higher. Total cost ran about the same to slightly less over the life of the trucks, which was 4-5 years as we put on 40-50k per year. But the drivers liked the trucks much better because they towed much better. The trucks were maxed out with the load and trailers we towed. The bottom line was we had much less troubles with the diesel trucks, they towed much better, and the overall ownership and operating cost was slightly better but not enough to make that the call.

  75. 75
    trollhattan says:

    I’m informed by religious experts that lesbians love trucks, so I’m foreseeing all sorts crossover potential WRT Betty’s future ad rotation.

    Am very glad I don’t have a reason to do the truck thing. Trucks make great trucks and horrible cars. Our biggest traffic threat in Californistan is testosterone/meth addled doodz driving their trucks as though they’re cars, which they ain’t.

  76. 76
    Bostondreams says:


    Thank you. He ‘accidentally’ took some of mom’s pills to help him sleep the other night, and slept for 13 hours. I told him when I got here today that that had to stop, and he said it did. His response when I said he needs to see his doc for sleep aids? ‘No, I just drink.’
    My dad is NOT traditionally a drinker.

    Any advice, anyone? This is hard. :(

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:


    He may resist the idea, but maybe you can see if the hospital or a nearby church has a grief support group for widowers. It’s especially hard for elderly men because they’re so used to their wives doing all of the household stuff that they’re not sure where to start. How do you cook your own meal? How do you clean a toilet? It sounds silly, but they can really be paralyzed by the huge mound of stuff that they now have to do for themselves while they’re trying to deal with their grief at the same time.

    If you have siblings with kids (or your own kids) now might be a good time to rally around and do lots of visiting to remind him that he has family who loves him and wants him to stick around. Good luck, and condolences on your mom. [[hugs]]

  78. 78
    Dana says:


    Turn the reporting window off, or shorten it’s display time. Under the Advanced Options tab in the Manage Ghostery Options menu, simply uncheck the top option, “Show Alert Bubble,” or lower the default 15 second bubble display time.

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