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Posted by Anthony Mullen on February 1, 2012
Google has handled its privacy debate by being disarmingly clear with a little note left on the fridge the other week.
We’re tidying up and love data too much to not want to connect it better.
Like it or lump it.
It’s their right - they are after all a private company and not the public service we somehow feel them to be. Google wants to “create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience” and its data consolidation is what will help it do this. Facebook makes one product called Facebook while Google up until now has chosen to run many nom de plumes, betas, and side initiatives. I’d like to see a more capable ‘joined up’ Google sparring with Apple and Facebook on who can do the coolest and most useful things for people using data. In truth, the Google engineering team must be relieved to ditch the sticking plasters and chewing gum connecting the hitherto disparate data sets they manage.
Data isn’t something you set free or conversely even hide. It’s something that you give more data to and see what new stuff it can come up with. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and all the other big personal data holders know this. These companies are at the forefront of the semantic web and are chasing down the promise of more, faster and smarter. We have enough data now to begin inferring something new and useful from it. Of course, in order to get big insights from big data we have to reduce the volume of human effort -- we can’t keep confirming and thumb scrolling through ‘permissions’ dialogues for each data exchange. At some point we need to permit companies to infer on our behalf if we want the dialogue to move up a gear. It’s a leap of faith.
So how will this affect Interactive Marketers in the here and now? Search relevance will improve and this is good news (albeit unproven) if you are running a PPC and/or mobile advertising program. The impacts for the future of IM are much larger -- marketers will be able to have deeper engagements with prospects and customers underpinned by rich semantic insight.
Is Google prepared for yet another examination by authorities in 2012? Privacy legislation is maturing in both the EU and the US and the threat of enforcement feels like it's drawing closer. Here’s a snapshot:
It is playing a blinder and believably tick the open, honest, and transparent boxes. They will keep innovating and they will keep leading us forward. Great art and science is hardly ever made by consensus and we should see Google as a Da Vinci and not an Angela Merkel.
How would your company fare under similar scrutiny? Do you have 4 or 5 different types of cookies on your site and could you justify your use of them if not to a government body then to a newspaper? Could you bring together all the data you hold about customers if asked? Do you really know how your off-site display marketing works?
What should IM’s do and what can they learn from Google's approach?
In order for the data insight and automation to continue the public will have to own their data in some meaningful way. The data owners are the new banks and the emerging timeline seems to be: