Wednesday 19 October 2011

Google is playing the privacy card, but in half measures ... user defined would have been better than default

Commerce Disguised as Privacy at Google
Google has announced yesterday that they are "Making Search More Secure" - Read Google's blog post to see how they are selling it to us! Search Engine land did a fantastic write-up about this move, especially if you are technically minded. 

I decided to try and simplify the move into what it means for each player: Users, Google, and measurable marketers and web publishers/owners.

Users: Most users [>90%] who use Google's organic search without being logged in/registered will still have their search data referred to 3rd parties. 100% of users that click on Google's Adwords will still have their search data referred to 3rd parties. Watch out Google will probably push for more users to register "for security reasons". So in fact currently, very limited users are actually more secure!

Google: Competitively this is a good PR move for Google, they are ahead of their competitors, they are waving the privacy card ahead of others. Like Facebook who simply abuses users and just apologizes when they get found out. Google is locking in more users of search and users of Google Analytics/WebMaster. Google will generate more ad revenue as more marketers rush to buy more AdWords and CPC prices go up even further. Google owns and keeps even more data about users as more users register. So in fact, this is a very good commercial move from Google, but they should not sell this as helping protect users.

Measurable marketers/web publishers and owners: For many this is going to be a blow because tracking just got more difficult especially because this is only going to get worse as Google will be pushing for more registered users. Now is the time to change your strategy. Don't rely on others to give you data about your users. Give your users a reason to register. Collect and analyze your own data about your own users. When setting up your SEO make sure each separate [landing] page on your site is using unique keywords - then you can track which keywords are working the best, by tracking the landing pages.

My conclusion ... If this was really about users security and privacy, Google would have been totally transparent and given users choice around how their data is used, rather than serving up default settings that suits Google. 

Read more about privacy and online publishers on another of my blog posts: The EU Privacy Directive and the online publishing industry.

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