The world we live in today has changed dramatically! It wasn’t that long ago that VHS tapes, Cassettes, Sony Walkman’s and cell phones the size of a small cruise missile were the norm.
Is Google Getting too Intrusive in Your Life?
Those days are gone, long gone. Did you know the first device ever marketed as a “Smartphone,” was the Erickson R380 in early 2000? Now smartphones, tablets, wifi and the like are today’s norm. This boom in personal technology and information overload all started with a college idea that has grown into one of the largest companies in the world and it is redefining the world as we know it. Google.
If you didn’t know it already, Google is a business, a big business. It generates revenue from its Google Adwords platform. In 2013, it generated $50 Billion in Adwords revenue, which accounts for about 85% of its total revenue. So, it’s relatively safe to assume that Google has a high vested interest in ensuring that its ad revenue continues to grow.
So how does Google play any sort of role in my life and how will it affect me?
Information is power! Ever wondered why Google virtually gives away all their products for free? Its information! Google collects data in several different ways. The IP address of your computer is logged when search requests are made and cookies are used for settings and tracking purposes. So yes, every search you make from Google.com is tracked back to your computer's IP address. If you are logged into your Google profile account when making that search, it could also be tracked back to you personally. In fact, if you are logged into any of your Google profiles, YouTube, Gmail, etc., the information you search for and click on can be attributed back to you personally and not just a computer.
Ever noticed while surfing the web that a particular ad from a website that you recently visited, seems to keep popping up in other websites you are visiting? It's almost as if they knew you were on that site! Guess what, they do. Its called "Remarketing," and certain websites who have Google Adwords activated on them, can remarket their ads to you on other websites that accept the Google Network.
Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, recently went on the record saying: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.” Not exactly instilling confidence in you and the expectation you may have of privacy when you are surfing the web.
Ok so what? I’ll bet everyone does this. You’d be right, Microsoft and Yahoo also do the same thing, but since Google accounts for 67.5% of the total search volume in the United States, the amount of data it collects is staggering. Oh, and don't forget about all those Android Apps you have been downloading to your phone and tablet. Google owns the Android platform and has access to all your activity via those apps.
Just take a look at a typical android app for your smartphone from the Google Play Store. Each time you click "Accept," you are giving the application access to all this information. Are they just using the access to give you a better experience or for some other reason? Why would a coupon app need access to your camera/microphone, contacts or phone? Are they going to send information to your list of contacts just by downloading their app? Does Google collect this information also?
If you think you are more immune than everyone else because you don’t have a smartphone, Gmail account or you use a different web browser, here is a list of the services that Google collects data from.
Do you use any of these Google products?
Should I Be Afraid of Google Now That They Have All This Data On Me?
Again, it comes back to revenue. Remember, Google is in the business of making money. They need to gather all of this personal information to research, analyze and target advertising messages to you.
We are not too far from the day that when you walk passed your local pizza restaurant, your watch will vibrate or beep to alert you with a personal message that your favorite pizza is $2 off right now. It will target you with preferences that you have indicated either directly with the restaurant or through the preferences you have indicated via search patterns, ads clicked, tweets sent, videos watched and so on.
If this sort of targeted marketing scares you, then you have a big problem. Try not using the internet, sending emails or connecting via social media. Well, maybe if you're over 70 you have a chance. However, the biggest growing demographic group involved in social media and mobile technology is 55 and over.
The answer to the Google question is of course a personal one. If you prefer to have targeted information sent to you instead of the mindless stream of garbage that you get on a daily basis, then the utilization of the information that is collected about you is probably worthwhile. If not, then try to avoid the online world and limit your exposure.
However, the big white elephant in the room is whether we trust Google, Microsoft, and the like to use the information they collect on us or our computer in a legal and beneficial way. The answer to that question probably depends on which side of the fence you are on. Ultimately, the real answer remains unknown. The full impact of how all this data collection will affect us is still to be played out. Individuals who enjoy technology and the benefits it can bring will undoubtedly embrace the concepts and seek to customize the information that is being fed to them. Those that don't like the ocean of technology that flows their way will probably remain frustrated and confused about how to handle it all!
If you want to remain independant, stop surfing the web, throw away your smartphone, stop sending email and buy a carrier pigeon!
The world has changed and its not turning back. Understanding what Google, Facebook and Microsoft are doing and why can actually make your life more manageable and even a little more stress free. Maybe!
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!