I have a game website which generates a very small amount of income through supposedly contextual pay-per-click ads. Over the past few months, I've noticed that the ads aren't very contextual anymore. The issue wasn't with the ad network, but rather how I restructured my content.
After a reduction in context-specific ads, I decided that if I could at least narrow down the gender of the user, I could provide gender-specific ads, which would target my users slightly better than random ads would.
However, I don't really want to extend the length of my signup form to include a gender question. Currently, it's short and sweet: name, email, password. And, people sign up as a result.
So, I got thinking, how can we possibly determine the gender of the user? One solution I came to was to use a gender/name list. A google search for "Boy names" or "Girl names" will produce a list, which I can store to database and query to determine a user's gender. Will this be 100% accurate? Of course not. A guy named Casey may very well be served ads targeted to women. A solution to that would be to serve random ads to any name which is ambiguous.
I have not tested this at all, but thought I might toss the idea out there, and see if anyone has any comments as to it's effectiveness.