I would be very surprised if you’ve managed to miss all the buzz about Gmail recently – seems everyone and his little sister wants an account. So, just to be ironic, I got hold of an account courtesy of my big sister, and have been poking it with a stick to see what it’s capable of. But I’m not going to be offering a review or anything here (it’s good, by the way) – my main point here is the mildly controversial advertising links that Google posts next to each message you view. According to Google:
Ads in Gmail are placed in the same way that ads are placed alongside Google search results and, through the Google AdSense program, on content pages across the web. Related information provides relevant information from sites in Google’s extensive index of web pages.
Which basically translates as “We’ll apply some fancy heuristic to your e-mail and pick out some adverts we think are related”. Recently, I decided to get in touch with an old friend of mine who is now studying Veterinary Medicine at Liverpool University. Obviously, her reply contained the occasional reference to farmyard animals, as vets are wont to do. Google decided to accompany this with the sponsored links to your right.
Take a look at the third one especially. Need I say more?