Google privacy policy changes
Google privacy policy changes
A view from Matt Stannard, chief technology officer, 4Ps

What Google's privacy changes mean for advertisers

Matt Stannard, chief technology officer at search and social marketing agency 4Ps Marketing (below), explains what advertisers need to know about the changes to Google's privacy policy.

Matt StannardMany people are up in arms about the changes Google has enforced today in its privacy policy, describing the changes as "unfair and unwise" and an "invasion of privacy". Perhaps a key concern is that users seem to have no way of opting out other than to stop using a Google service completely.

Today’s changes see Google amalgamate the privacy policies for each of its products and services into one - a move which Google claim will make things simpler and easier for the end user. It also makes clear that information collected within a product or service can be shared with another, meaning if you are logged into Gmail and visit YouTube, your name may be displayed consistently in both.

Perhaps the most controversial point is that the information collected across Google’s products and services can be shared. One example Google give is if you receive e-mails about jaguars (ie the giant cat) and watched YouTube videos about them, when you search for "jaguar" it would know to return results with a bias on animals rather than cars.

It is important to stress that this information is only shared if a user is signed in. Google has been pushing this in its recent advertising campaigns and we are seeing the number of searches by signed-in users increase. Google will also not combine DoubleClick cookie information with personally identifiable information unless a user has given opt-in consent.

The change should be very beneficial to advertisers across the Google Network as it allows them to really refine and target a user based on several sources of data. These include device, location, previous search history, Google+ conversations and perhaps e-mails they have received.

Taking YouTube, for example, where a user has searched for "How to Ski". Information in their search history, perhaps the words "Cheap Ski Holidays", as well as Gmail messages in which they refer to a skiing holiday, could be used to provide more contextual advertising.

With access to a broader range of information across all of Google’s products, advertisers should be able to move forwards to not necessarily be based upon keywords or a sites matching certain criteria, but based more upon information a user has actively engaged with online.

Location can also play a big part; with Google having an ever growing presence in the mobile market, this would perhaps enable push or mobile web advertising based upon a user’s location and search history, perhaps if they had searched for a restaurant in the last 14 days and were in that restaurants locality.

There are many people campaigning against these changes and the EU has suggested they may violate its data laws. However, users can amend settings and the information will enable advertisers to promote their products and services in a much more relevant way. It also provides continued competition to Facebook, who launched several new services including Reach Generator, Brand Pages and Sponsored Stories at their fMC Conference yesterday.