Zeus of Marketing

Why I Don’t Trust Google – Do Not Get Caught in a Quest for Omnisciency Backlash

March 7th, 2013

Could be as early as 2020

Warning: Could be earlier than 2084

The inserted graphic, found by chance in a Bing Image search, pretty much summarizes my reservations about Google. While I couldn’t find the original source to give it credit – this particular picture was found on analytics20.org.

In one sentence (my elevator pitch): In a world that is becoming increasingly concerned about privacy, Google is positioning itself as the omniscient netizen behavior sentinel. It’s a train-wreck waiting to happen.

I could go on and on with other negative factors such as, low viewership of banner ads, increasing desensitization of search ads, loss of control over the Android OS via strengthening “host brands” like Samsung, low G+ engagement in spite of major marketing investment…

Tip: a good way to confirm Google+ take in real time : always check the “share counter” in any article for how many people have liked or shared in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn versus number of G+1 shares. Here’s an example from a c|net article:Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.54.12 PM

…Above all, the one overriding Google Achilles heel is its counter-trend move by intending to keep tabs on everything about everyone. It may be a marketer’s dream (and seemingly Wall Street drank the Kool Aid too), but one that comes with a level of responsibility that, in my opinion, Google continuous to avoid.

I know – almost every “blogger” at one time or another has sang Google’s praises – I am still holding back and continue to be a Google skeptic (See my Axioms for Google in my previous post on my 2012 Predictions post) The fact that its stock price increased double digits over the past 6 months is not a function of an improved company but the lack of rationality in the market when it comes to valuing tech companies (Groupon opened at $20? enough said). Or worse yet, lack of creativity in using available technologies for innovative business models.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably read my 2012 recap where I mention that during 2013, Privacy issues will continue to grow – while somewhat buried in my advice for marketers section, I believe that it will start taking a stronger hold than any other manufactured hype that the industry may think of (insert one more shameless ridiculing of the term “SoLoMo”).

Before exclaiming “bullocks!!!!” (I am not British by the way – I´m just trying to keep a G rating), I urge you to take on a user perspective not a marketing perspective on this. Ultimately, part of marketing 101 is to put ourselves in our customers shoes. As background, here are the key factors fueling this trend:

  • Increasing points of data-entry will speed up user maturity and realization- whether we, as users, realize it or not, we are sharing more and more of our information as more applications and devices are introduced that help make our lives easier, but at the same time add higher risk of over-sharing. There comes a point in which people will “Google themselves” and realize “OMG” if this is publicly available and free, what information can be accessed by a fee? Am I willing to expose myself like this? What’s the cost? Orwell would be so happy.
  • Publicity on Large Corporate data hacks: “If a large corporation can be hacked – what level of protection do I have?” /Did GM Cadillac really acquired JEEP, was Burger King really gulped by McDonald’s)?
  • Legislation: While I am not a proponent of government censorship – left unattended and lack of self-regulation will fuel increased legislation (globally) No amount of lobbying or simple hand slapping will silence such a sensitive topic.

Google’s actions to integrate all its web properties to maintain a single user database, and at the same time attempt to control the OS of every Internet connected device (including glasses, TV’s and Cars besides phones, tablets and laptops) AND the applications running on them (while working, playing or vegetating) places them clear in the center of any privacy backlash firing Sight (rifle reference to appease any NRA reader).

Furthermore, in plain business common sense parlance, not just strategically, do you want to fund/fuel the creation of a single supplier to support your whole corporate value chain? Oligopolies are so 19th Century.

If my prediction is right (an logic and observation cearly supports it) and privacy issues become an increasingly important factor amongst netizens, here’s my recommendation to make sure you are not caught in the backlash:

  1. Transparency – be very transparent with your customers as to what the data you collect will be used for (have a privacy policy).
  2. Speak in natural language, not legalese – in following number 1, do it in everyday speak – remember you are looking for customer trust – not Court “CYA’ing.” (I look forward for someone to start a legalese-to-natural language translation website – ironically, the liability hurdles are probably insurmountable)
  3. Look beyond banner and display and search ads – be very clear as to how reach is achieved – is it invited or forced based on somebody else data (are you completely sure of how that data was obtained)? While you may not be legally liable, the court of public opinion will continue to strengthen (fueled by that same trends that brought you the “digital advertising” opportunity in the first place)
  4. Last, but most important, truly leverage the opportunity that the digital world offer you: romance your customer, mine and maintain your own permission based customer profiles (database) and engage with your best to spread the word (advocates). In my opinion this is the true promise and benefit of a digital world in marketing.

As additional resources:

I just came across this eMarketer article on Consumers reactions to “uninvited” brand outreach: Brand Social Outreach Must Walk a Fine Line – Consumers are sensitive to how much companies listen and respond to them online

Also – I found the articles and resources in the TRUSTe newsletter to be a good way to stay abreast of the privacy topic.

What am I missing? Am I way off on left field? As always feel free to comment to your heart’s content. I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. Feel free to reach me if you would like to review my thoughts in a more quantitative and practical manner. You can contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana.





Entry Filed under: Location Based Services,Marketing Basics,Mobile,Social Media


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