H is not in Hong Kong

I’ve encountered more peculiarities with online tracking in the last day.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago I run off a VPN at home. Generally I connect through an Australian server for speeds sake, but I’ll mix it up. The last couple of days I’ve been connecting via a Hong Kong host.
In terms that you’ll understand that means that I’ve been getting Chinese and Hong Kong advertising on the websites I’m visiting, because they figure that’s where I’m from. Well and good.
So anyway at work I login to my Gmail and check my email, and I’ll browse other sites. Presumably the local host is Australia, which means in theory that any site I visit will presume that I’m an Aussie.
Now Gmail adds another factor in that equation because as soon as I login to that they know me specifically. I’m not just a dude from Melbourne, Australia (theoretically), but I’m also H.
So today I click on a link in an email from the NYT. It takes me to the NYT site and to the article I wish to read. It’s an interesting article and all that, but what is really fascinating is the advertising running down the side of the page. It’s all in Cantonese advertising Chinese sites I can’t begin to understand.
I stop to ponder this. How can it be? The only logical answer I can come up with is that Gmail had updated given my most recent login at home and discerned I was connecting through, and existent in, Hong Kong. When I click on that link it passes on that information – even though I’m logging in from work. Presumably it hasn’t yet updated with that info.
Now that is really fascinating. At least it is for someone like me with a bit of geek in him.
And yet on other sites I visit I get Australian ads – The Age, for which I am a subscriber, and therefore am ID’d, and on this site, Outlook, for which I am similarly ID’d. Would it have been different had I logged into those sites from home while connected through HK?
I doubt it is as simple as that, but there are some mind blowing algorithms at work here.

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