I wonder what the exciting new profession of online contextual advertising is like. Much in the hesitant way I wonder what it is to breastfeed a screeching infant. This is to say: with a detached jumble of disgust and awe.

A week or so ago, Crikey noted the unwitting part Mr Rudd might play in hawking targeted product to his Facebook friends. As the chary will note, web content often carries an advertisement that seems eerily apt. Major purveyors of contextual ads such as Microsoft ContentAds and Google AdSense devise ware that might match, say, medical news with pharmaceutical treatments.

I’m nearly certain that Facebook is in the habit of using these algorithms. I note on Rudd’s profile today there is an entreaty to, “Fit Your Skinny Jeans for Summer.” 

My own friendless corner of social media often instructs, “Sad? Talk to Your Doctor.” Spooky. It’s like these guys know me.

And, of course, they do. Ads that match the context of a story or the contours of a life appear on my screen with the cruel speed of meth at a Christmas Party for Creatives.

We can only expect the artillery of advertisers to become more lethal. Actually, it’s not even as if they need to hone their sights. We leave such an online audit trail, we might as well wear a target that blares, for example, “Sell me Spanking DVDs. And, you know, only the good British kind.”

To advance our evolution from human to consumer: enter HyperTargeting by MySpace. Today, the helpful despots at Fox Interactive Media announced plans to effectively (a) violate your psyche and (b) sell you more sh-t you’d be better off without. Or, more floridly, “Our mission with HyperTargeting by MySpace was to build an ad platform that translates our massive amounts of self expressed user data into highly-targeted, interest-based segments, enabling us to better serve the exact right ad to the right person at the right time.”

So typed the personal assistant of some bloke called Michael Barrett.

MySpace, according to its own press release, is the “premier lifestyle portal” for connecting with friends and failing to employ apostrophes. (Although, of course, it really isn’t. As has been reported, Facebook is increasingly becoming the world’s preferred waste of time.)

Naturally, the mandarins of social media would like to diminish the bonds of real friendship with more freaking ads. And why wouldn’t they? So many conceited nongs like me offer the contents of ourhearts, minds and iPods, we’re begging for it.

HyperTargeting by MySpace helpfully offers its service to a range of customers. This guarantee of “superior brand resonance” is recommended, in particular, to politicians.

HyperTargeting will know so very much about the tendencies of the individual and preferences of particular groups, they’ll be able to advertise John Howard in EXACTLY the right context.

I see him on The Veronicas’ MySpace page, personally. Hook him up with the identically vapid aspirationals from Booming Brisbane.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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