Sunday, 30 October 2011

Google's new "user privacy" protection policy

You probably noticed that there was a big hype in the marketing blogosphere the past couple of weeks regarding Google's new privacy policy. This involved the decision not to reveal analytics programme users the keywords some of www surfers used in the search engine to get to their particular website.

As in any situation the glass is half full and half empty in this case as well. On one hand keywords appear as "(not provided)" in the analytics programme if the internet user was logged-in on a Google account the moment he did the search. This means Gmail, Youtube, Google+, and other accounts that are or will be under Google's ownership (see new acquisitions made by the giant).

On the other hand, Google AdWords users will have access to this particular information, so the keywords are not provided where organic search is involved. So the new "privacy policy" divides businesses in superiors and inferiors. How to get from one category to the other? Just pay Google, simple as that. Of course, there is an ethical issue in place as well, Google trying to hide the unethicalness of the decision behind the concept of "user privacy". Do not get me wrong, user privacy is an important issue in today's internet society, but if the giant would have really intended to protect users, he would have kept AdWords in the dark too. Plus, Google already offers an encrypted search functionality to surfers from 2010, so if users decide to stay hidden they can, but now Google takes that decision for them.

Furthermore, for the moment at least logged-in users represents only a smart part of searchers, but marketers should monitor the percentage of them (compared to the whole of incoming surfers on their website) for a longer period of time. Additionally, there still remain Bing and Yahoo searches to consider.

Marketers can just hope that Google will take into account our disappointment and turn this thing around. Until then, we can just express our opinion wherever we can - blog posts or comments. So I encourage you to comment on this issue on my blog or on Google's official blog.

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