Google Privacy Changes: Online Ecosystems and the Internet Marketer

» Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in Business Strategy, Marketing | 11 comments

Google Privacy Changes: Online Ecosystems and the Internet Marketer

Google has announced that starting March 1, 2012 that they will be changing their privacy policy to be consistent among the Google family of products.  To outline those changes, Google took the unusual step of putting a link to those changes on the main Google website .  The products effected are most importantly Google search, gmail, YouTube, and Google +.

Why is this worthy of note?  We all know that Google is the biggest game in town.  In fact,  you may be aware that Google is the largest ad-based company in the world.  With dominant market share in search, significant market share in email with gmail, the largest video site in the world, and growing social media presence in Google +, not to mention ownership of the Android operating system and aspirations to own Motorola, it is the proverbial 900 pound gorilla in the market.

It is also rapidly becoming a spookily Orwellian presence.  The days of anonymous Internet usage are fading into the distance.  In that same way that people now view the numbers that they call as public information (or should), so your Internet wanderings are now a part of your online persona.  While Google does provide some level of personal privacy settings in the Google Dashboard, it will take a savvy user to avoid publishing their browsing behavior, and it behooves Internet marketers to be aware of those changes and what they will allow you (and your competitors) to do in the future.

With greater user data available, the approach shifts to what we call sniper ads: extremely targeted advertising.  We have already seen a mixing of user data and ad-based marketing on a smaller scale.  There are many examples of this technology in the name of “enhanced user experience”:  think recommendations from Amazon  based upon your reading history.   Lowes  the on-line home repair retailer displays products based upon what you last looked at and suggests add-on purchases.   Ebay  displays the products you last looked at, and if you were not successful in a particular auction, it gives you listings of similar items for sale.   Netflix was one of the first to implement recommendations on was last watched, and has set the standard for other video sites.

Most, if not all, of these company tie in other marketing programs with the customized user experience.  Many offer emails with teasers based upon user activity in their site,  some use the data to implement targeted direct mail campaigns.  This type of marketing is familiar, but is based on a certain level of “opt-in.”  The information is based upon what you have done on that individual company’s site.  If (when) Google provides data to its advertisers, advertisers could piece together bits of your online persona across a variety of sites and searches that would allow them to come to logical conclusions on user potential for purchasing products and services.

Combining demographic profile data from Google+ with search history and location, etc., is a big deal.  And once you get past the apocalyptic soundtrack running through your head, it allows for some marketing brilliance.

  • For example, Google would know your spouse’s birthday from Google +.   Based upon location, advertisers could place a custom ad for roses, dinner, or a show several days prior.
  • If you used Google maps to get driving direction to NYC from your current location, you might get ads for restaurants in NY.
  • If you recently changed your relationship status or job status on Google+, you might get targeted ads based on those changes.
  • Google’s own example (Remember, this is all for user benefit!  Enhanced user experience!)  is that a user may receive a message that they are going to be late for a meeting, based upon your location and current traffic or weather conditions.

The creation of these technology ecosystems via Google, Apple, Amazon, or Facebook are happening all around us and are nothing new.  However, most users – at least those not wanted by the FBI- have viewed online search, looking at an image or a video, or sending a email,  as anonymous.  Google simply brings the fact that they aren’t into the open, and for that, we should be grateful.  This is not a technology change – just an unveiling.  Marketers should prepare accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

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  1. Google Privacy Policy: What Actually Changed, and Why? | Spalding Barker Strategies - [...] Google is trying to get your attention to let you know about their privacy changes.  We wrote here about the…

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