And for marketers, the ability to enhance ad targeting on platforms such as YouTube through search data won’t necessarily help it compete with Facebook.
Google said yesterday that starting March 1, 60 of the more than 70 privacy policies associated with its various platforms and services will be boiled down to one, simpler policy. Through the consolidation, a reality that already exists for Google is made more transparent.
This could lead to Google searches informing YouTube ad targeting, or YouTube video search data being applied to Gmail ad targeting. Google will not combine login data relating to user activity in services like Gmail, YouTube, or Google search with DoubleClick data, however.
For some marketers, the policy consolidation raises questions about Google’s desire to compete with Facebook. If Google is under pressure to enable enhanced audience segmentation and targeting à la Facebook – as some surmise – it remains to be seen whether the potential changes at Google will have a true impact for advertisers.
“Google doesn’t do the best job of understanding someone’s interests,” suggested Eric Frenchman, a longtime search marketer and “digital ninja” at marketing consulting company PardonMyFrench. He suggested Google search data works best to inform immediate or near-immediate ad targeting.
“People are looking for information right then and there,” he said. So, if Google will now share search data across other properties like YouTube, it may not be beneficial when it comes to building a profile the way Facebook can. While Google understands who’s in-market for a laptop, it may not understand which sports teams or musical artists people like.
“I just think Facebook does a better job of knowing my interests over a long term,” said Frenchman. “Facebook knows I’m a [Bruce] Springsteen fan. Facebook knows I’m a New York Giants fan.”
For years, privacy watchdogs have suggested companies like Google simplify their privacy policies. “Regulators globally have been calling for shorter, simpler privacy policies – and having one policy covering many different products is now fairly standard across the web,” noted Whitten in the blog post.
Overall, the policy simplification is “a good step towards transparency about how Google is using user data,” said Erica Newland, policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Google has been merging its products for a while now.”
While it leaves some questions about the company’s use of data in the future, the change raises “no red flags at this time,” she said.
If users don’t want to be tracked across platforms, they can conduct searches or watch YouTube videos without logging in, the company said. But that doesn’t work when it comes to Gmail or other services requiring login.
At least one lawmaker already indicated concern. “While it is undetermined at this point how the policy will impact specific Google services, it is imperative that users will be able to decide whether they want their information shared across the spectrum of Google’s offerings,” wrote Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who’s often among the first congressmen to speak out about digital privacy issues. “As the company continues to flesh out its plans, I look forward to evaluating the changes to ensure consumers’ privacy is protected.”
Markey has sponsored one of many pending privacy bills which call on the Federal Trade Commission to regulate privacy requirements related to online ad targeting and data.
ClickZ’s recent webinar on Mastering the Art of Data-Driven Attribution was a great reminder of the opportunities available for companies to make strides in this rapidly-evolving area of marketing.
We all need data on the users that matter to us most. In many cases, to get this data, we need to have data forms to collect and capture information directly on our websites.
“You cannot succeed in analytics and marketing unless they are central to business operations and are helping business answer the questions that will drive dollars to the top or bottom line,” says Kerem Tomak, Sears Chief Digital Marketing & Analytics Officer.
The use of psychology in marketing and sales is not new, but it may be more useful than ever in an attention economy where time is precious and focus is rare. How can you tap into a demanding consumer to check whether there is an actual interest in your product?