Total Adsense Mastery

James CaanFor a period of over a month during October and November 2010, I was stalked across the internet by none other than James Caan, the multi-millionaire businessman and Dragon. He was advertising a one-day seminar entitled “James Caan’s Total Business Mastery” through a company called EBA which took place on November 27th. During the stalking period, almost any site I browsed which served up Google Ads (of which there are one or two) would display James’ smiling face, inviting me to purchase a ticket so I could learn to be more entrepreneurial. Sometimes there were as many as 3 of these adverts on a single page.

I noticed the trend sometime in early October, and made many comments about it in the office. It became something of an internal meme, and I assumed it would pass soon. In late October, it was apparent that the ad was sticking with me for a while, so I began to keep a tally of how many I saw in a day. Obviously, this tally is dependent on a number of factors, mostly how much I browsed the net that day (which isn’t necessarily a direct correlation to the amount of work I got done that day, of course…), and days I wasn’t in the office since I only saw them on my work computer, but it still makes for (vaguely) interesting statistics. A more interesting statistic would have been the ratio of pages which served Google Ads to the number of those which served James Caan adverts, but hey, I’m not made of tally charts, am I?

Stop, number time!

Between October 21st and November 26th 2010, I recorded 127 individual sightings of adverts for James Caan’s Total Business Mastery, averaging 4 a day, or 5 per work day. The most I saw in a single day was 16, and the minimum (not counting the rare days that I saw none) was 1. The mode of the dataset was 3, and the median was 3.5.

Enough stats already, give me a freakin’ graph! OK.

All this has made me wonder – is this normal? I can’t help but think that it is. Perhaps normally I simply ignore it, and that it was only James Caan’s happy smiling face that made me notice this particular ad campaign. I haven’t noticed any more Adsense stalkings since this one, but, as I say, I may be immune to them unless they have pictures of James Caan on them. Which leads me to wonder – is it only James Caan’s face I’ll respond to? Google, in the interests of science, can you serve me up some ads with Tina Fey on them? Thanks muchly.

As an aside, did anyone actually go to the seminar? Was it any good? I can’t help but think that it undersold, since the ads proclaimed ‘limited space available!’ yet they served me ads up until the day before the event.

Update: Turns out he’s doing another one in January, and I’m seeing adverts again. I’m taking tallies, so expect another update soon.

Comments ( 3 )
  • Dr. Alex Wilson says:

    I can see your point. Yet, at the same time this is hardly scientific. For example, the average person loses count of the ads they don’t see (or aren’t fully cognisant of their content) probably 5 or 6 times a day. Therefore, if this variable was introduced, on some ‘low prescience’ junctures you experienced the ad -4 or -5 times in a day. A tentative conclusion is that you require a CaanBalanceOmeter which would act more as a barometer and to take an indexed stock of Caan exposure as clearly you can experience both positive accumulation and negative “desensitization” to the entrepreneurial overlord. This is far more insightful than a “tally”.
    Alternatively, you may wish to set up a control and a series of dummy variables to check that you are actually exposed to James Caan, rather than tallying mere hallucinations of his charming face. If we were to consider the non-retained observatory incidences you might have noticed more Caan than there actually was in “actuality” (as opposed to “reality”) – in conclusion, a positive correlation of existence to sighting may in fact be less than anticipated.

  • mike says:

    I had exactly the same issue. I think I must have seen an ad for it, googled it to see what it was, and now Google thinks I must be interested.

    I suppose targeting their marketing at people who have searched for it is a better way of choosing to spend their money than a scattergun approach, but it is very annoying.

    Google seem to be doing this a lot – using search data to target ads, and also not vetting their advertisers, who may well be scammers, as this article in the guardian makes clear:

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