Google is gathering as much information as possible about our online activities in the interest of serving up more targeted ads across more and more locations. Google continues to introduce new services limited only by what can have an advertisement placed alongside the content. Future products might include data gathering and targeting as a primary business goal with the intent of collecting higher advertising revenues elsewhere on the network on a future visit. Yahoo! just announced they will serve advertisements based on surfing behavior. Where does Google stand in its behavioral targeting?
Google is already well on its way to building an information awareness network on its own sites as well as the sites of hundreds of thousands of willing webmasters and millions of desktop clients. What is the current state of Google’s information network?
- Google has the ability to track and analyze every web search query, news request, and television or video browsing.
- Google Alerts send strong signals about your interests and help focus advertising relevance.
- Every e-mail sent, received, or drafted in Gmail or every instant message or voice conversation delivered through Google Talk increases the intelligence of the advertising machine as it learns more about your casual interests.
- Social networking services such as Orkut analyze your friends and their interest to better understand your potential influences.
- Google Analytics and AdSense tracks your movement on every site with the service enabled, creating a behavioral profile.
- Webmasters can verify their domains of control using Google Sitemaps. Reviews and other Google site content can easily be associated with a Google account.
- Google Toolbar picks up every site you visit, regardless of the site’s participation in a Google supported tracking program.
- As an Internet service provider blanketing entire cities with free wireless access, Google will have access to the full online activities of entire populations including their frequented locations. Trail programs are planned for Mountain View and San Francisco.
- Not on a Google network? That’s OK, just route all your traffic through Google Secure Access.
- Not online? Google Desktop will index all of your files and connect to the central database once you connect to the grid to update your advertising profile.
All that is missing right now is all these different data collection tools talking to each other to create one large profile per user. Microsoft could compete in the space by recording every web action on a computer running Windows but such actions would most likely be seen as abusing a monopoly. Google has the ability to silently deploy cross pollination of its advertising platforms across a multitude of services whenever it would like to flip the switch.
Scientia est potentia. Knowledge is power.