We know that ads can be targeted based on the tags a user is browsing. Given the recent promotion by Telerik, we saw that SO also has the ability to target an advertisement to a subset of users based on their metadata, in this case users with 10,000 reputation or more.

Was this a one-off situation, or does SO (and SE) have the ability to target ads to users based on other arbitrary metadata as well? For example, pointing frequent question-askers to tutorial books and media, or showing advertisements for expert-level conferences to people with certain Specialist badges?

Just curious how much of our SO metadata is available to the ad mechanism to attempt to provide us with interesting and relevant advertisements.


You are correct: tags are the primary ad-targeting mechanism. We also offer geo-targeting, which works off of the visitor's IP addresses. We can also do browser/OS targeting via user-agent string, but no one has requested that thus far. But that's it; we don't offer any other targeting.

The 10K-targeting was a very special thing that we did exclusively for Telerik, as they are a very special sponsor. But at this time, we are not offering rep-targeting for anyone else. Once we see how this promo goes, then we may consider offering it to other premium sponsors.

Because SO is custom software, we could, in theory, target anything we want... down to the number of white pixels in your gravitar. But, we'll cross that bridge when it comes, if and when a sponsor requests it...

Fun aside: a sponsor asked if they could target a specific user (no idea who or why). We told them instead to use the contact info in the user's profile.

  • I guess everybody who reads this is thinking about the same user
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Sep 18 '09 at 6:28

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