Let the data mingling commence!
Google is going to start storing Chrome and Google app browsing history alongside an individual’s Google account information, which catalogs what you watch on YouTube and what you search for.
The internet giant previously siloed those two types of information, and now that they’re coming together that data could eventually power more personalized ads on third-party websites, and possibly even fuel Google’s cross-device play. After all, Google search activity happens across desktop, mobile devices, tablets and more. Once that’s tied to a login, you’ve got a connection that hooks together numerous devices.
But all that will have to wait. According to a Google spokesperson, no new advertising products or targeting capabilities are available as of Wednesday.
First, Google needs to get users to give the OK to this data mixing. Data will only be mingled if consumers opt in – and throughout the summer, Google will slowly labor to collect those permissions.
“Like so often, Google is changing policies before it’s changing capabilities,” said Jay Friedman, COO of marketing services firm Goodway Group. “This is a change in policy without being immediately actionable for marketers. Google will gauge consumer reaction and determine whether it needs to be more or less forceful with consumers, and how ‘worth it’ this is, before releasing capabilities for marketers.”
Google declined to provide a timeline for when its advertiser clientele might see enhanced capabilities – and it also claimed not to have any benchmarks around how many opt-ins it would need to comfortably continue with its data-mingling plans.
Instead, Google framed the issue in terms of its cross-screen ad preferences infrastructure, which has frankly lagged behind some competitors such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. For instance, its ad controls require device-by-device management, meaning users reporting an annoying ad on a laptop would have to do so again on a mobile device. In merging browsing data with account information, Google users can have a central control hub.
As dandy as that is, it’s hard to overlook the initiative's potential impact on cross-device ad targeting. Even though Google is downplaying the benefits for marketers, it’s also persuading consumers to opt in by promising they’ll see more relevant ads, which naturally indicates advertisers will have better targeting capabilities across devices.
“The ability to provide sequential ads across devices is a big deal, and breaking down the silos is clearly important to help Google leverage its massive ecosystem more effectively – particularly as they’re adding search to the mix,” said Mindshare North America Chief Data Officer Rolf Olsen.
While many industry insiders look at Facebook with its impressive mobile revenue stream and its Atlas ad server as the de facto cross-device giant, Rob Griffin – chief innovation officer at the boutique digital agency Almighty – thinks Google could make a bigger play.
“Google has way bigger potential for being a cross-device solution than what Facebook has,” said Griffin, a former senior exec at French holding company Havas. “So much of Facebook usage is mobile-only. But Google can look at all the things they have and if they combine them, they are by default cross-device.”