Google AdCense Improves Olfactory Relevancy

Google AdCense is now available in a beta release. AdCense computers look at the advertising content on your site, focus on the keywords used in the text and graphic images and deliver a relevant and vaguely agreeable odor.

The new service is intended to improve the experience of most computer users by providing relevant olfactory content. Typically, the way a computer smells has nothing to do with the content presented on the screen. Studies show that increased relevancy results in more satisfied users and improved pay per click advertising.

Science fiction fans will of course recall the odalarm by Frank Herbert, which wakes you up with an appropriate odor. See also last week's Science Fiction in the News article Frank Herbert's Odalarm - A Scent-Based Alarm Clock.

A Google Challenge was issued in late 2002; a team was formed of the best entrants. After coding diligently for 8 months, non-technical people in focus groups were asked to press their noses to CRTs and LCD flat panels displays and describe their experience. The most common response from participants was "sorta smelled like ozone." Noting that people like fresh scents, developers pressed on. A brief success was made with the smell of peanut butter and jelly, but it appeared to function only on "Bring Your Child to Work" day.

Google insiders reluctantly revealed that initially it was hoped that AdScents could be delivered. However, given the difficulty of delivering identifiable, verifiable odors to every computer without additional hardware, this was abandoned. Also, it was realized that this would be very difficult to internationalize.

Finally, developers made use of a combination of downloaded software utilities that would overclock and even hyperclock a computer's CPU, causing small amounts of magic smoke to escape. This, combined with other odors emitted by heavily taxed hard disk drives (using the same technique once used to get drum hard drives to "walk"), would create a small but usable set of vaguely pleasant odors. Thus, AdCense was born.

Why hasn't this program advanced past the beta stage? Cynics point out that rich media online advertising both delays content download and grotesquely interrupts the user's experience; they stink and there's nothing you can do about it.

Happy April Fool's Day!

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