27th Oct 2016
It’s due to take effect on March 1st 2012, but why have they done it, and what does it mean to the average user and the search industry as a whole?
The fundamental reason for pushing this change, and the reason privacy advocates are up in arms, is that Google want a more seamless experience amongst all of their products, especially flagship ones such as Search, Gmail, Google+ and Youtube. This means that all of these services will share more data about you than ever before – which could mean a more customised user experience but will also have a significant impact on how much Google understands its users and can profile them.
What are some specific things users can expect?
But what’s in it for Google?
Well, in part it’s the desire to deliver an improved experience for Google users. The internet giant is very aware that to sell more advertising (which is, remember, their core business) they need to make its services the best available on the web and encourage people to stay inside Google properties, loading pages and viewing adverts.
The main reason however is to add another layer of intelligence into the behemoth which is Google’s advertising platform. By sharing data between all of Google’s products, they can build up a terrifyingly accurate picture of a user’s interests, their daily routine, social circles (please excuse the Google+ pun) and travel habits.
By understanding users more than ever, Google can show hyper-relevant advertising and charge more for it – either through higher click-through rates or advertiser’s willingness to pay a higher cost-per-click. Expect to see adverts on Google properties that are so personalised that they may become unnerving:
To sum up…
As a search agency who advertises for clients via the AdWords platform, I’m looking forward to seeing what advanced targeting options Google rolls out over the next 12 months. The more targeted and relevant we can make adverts for our clients, the more effective they can be and the better the return on investment for clients.
As a user, I’m actually pleased that Google have made this move and I hope that it leads to a new level of automation and intelligence when using the Google products that now pervade my personal and professional life. I can imagine Google being able to use this data to create a sort-of ‘digital butler’ who can recommend interesting websites and resources based on my interests, remind me of upcoming events and help me organise my life better.
I hope that Google won’t use this data in ways that users find overly intrusive or allow it to get into the hands of dubious people. However, unlike some of the mainstream press who are sensationalising the ‘invasion of privacy’ angle, I can’t see why Google would want to risk what would surely be a suicidal lapse of judgement.