Oh, Behave: Google Targets Behavioral Advertising and Privacy

google-behavioral-targetingGoogle is interested in your interests.

The Google monolith announced today that its next option for advertisers will include behavioral targeting, and Miguel Helft of the NY Times wisely posits that the acquisition of DoubleClick and its technology is becoming more visible in Google strategy.

From “Google’s Official Blog,” Susan Wojcicki, VP, Product Management, writes:

At Google, we believe that ads are a valuable source of information — one that can connect people to the advertisers offering products, services and ideas that interest them. By making ads more relevant, and improving the connection between advertisers and our users, we can create more value for everyone.

Man, they’ve got some serious “keywords” over there.

You wanna make more money, Big G – who are you kidding? There’s nothing wrong with makin’ coin, but the holier-than-thou-shalt-do-no-evil attitude tastes saccharine from here.

Careful of My Privacy

This is another big step for the world’s largest collector of personal data and cannot be ignored by anyone. And, as usual, the media is enjoying the discussion around privacy and providing little insight other than Congress or other governmental agencies will be riding into town looking for behavioral renegades because, evidently, free content grows on the Internet’s trees.

All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka stirs the pot with a portrait of a smiling, Virginia congressman saying, “That’s Rick Boucher, a Democratic congressman from Virginia. And I’m pretty sure Google just ensured that you’re going to be seeing and hearing from him with some frequency.” Bold words, Peter.

It appears that Google is being pro-active and allowing users different configurations of opting-out for its behavioral advertising having created an Ad Preferences Manager and a plug-in which prevents deletion of a no-behavioral-ads cookie. It is difficult to imagine a user doing anything other than either accepting all behavioral ads or not through the new opt-out interface, which assumes users even go that far.

A big question is where is all this behavioral data coming from – exactly? Is it from search which is similar to the keyword and display ad retargeting recently announced by Yahoo!? Not yet.

The Google blog post offers an example of how its retargeting works with a user who has a cookie set in their browser while visiting the Google AdSense network, then visits an e-commerce sports site, and then is shown a display ad on the AdSense content network from an advertiser who wishes to target users with sports interests.

Searching for Behavior

Google is “leading” with behavioral targeting on its ad network, and figuring out privacy strategy, as the more important search retargeting will likely follow with even higher CPMs uncorking display advertising revenue on Google/DoubleClick’s Advertising Exchange AdEx and AdSense network (or do you say AdSense Exchange?).

Re-targeting search is the behavioral endgame as AOL’s 2006 data dump mishap proved. Google, as the industry’s leading advertising player, has to figure out a way to maintain user anonymity despite the identifiable nature of a behavioral search profile. (Think of the money being saved at smaller ad networks and exchanges for lawyers fees and… lawyers fees and… as Google leads the privacy battle.)

Content is not free. There will be compromise in Washington, and globally, as most users will understand that in allowing a cookie, he or she receives free content and cheaper products and services. It’s a healthy trade as long as the advertising industry offers controls to users to manage their personal information.

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