December 28, 2012

Google Meets Big Brother To Spy On You

There seem to be some conflicting reports on the matter, but in a nutshell, Google has plans to track your offline activity. Creepy much?

Google makes yet another power move in the competition for your information as it extends another tentacle closer to you and your life.

That’s just swell!

On Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 9:27 AM Conversions API was unveiled via Google’s Double Click Search Blog, where they explained their latest and greatest project. “But we understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions. To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically. Upload new conversions to account for in-store transactions, call-tracking, or other offline activities, or edit existing conversions to account for discounts, returns, credit, or fraud through integrated API access. Today, you can combine this information with our Performance Bidding Suite to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”

They go on to say, “Advertisers are prohibited from sending personally identifiable information using this feature, as outlined by the Terms of Service for the API. Further, this API provides no ability to target advertising. The conversion data is used by advertisers to better manage and report on the amount they pay for advertising and the ROI they get from it.”

Now, the jury is still out on whether this is good news or not, but you be the judge.

In my opinion, it sounds a little suspect. If the info about ROI (return on investment) is used to guide future advertisement, then wouldn’t that have them using our offline activities aided by the info they’ve already got from our searches and online activities to better target the advertisements? That’s where it gets a little contradictory.

Honestly, I doubt that Google would do anything questionable with our info. They’re just too big and too public to do something that obvious, but there’s always the possibility of encrypted info being sold illegally by employees or otherwise leaked to third party investors. That’s when the random 2:00am spam texts start.

‘You’ve won two tickets for a Caribbean cruise and an opportunity to enter our gazillion dollar sweepstakes!’

From the point of view of the skeptical consumer this sounds a little troublesome, but from that of a business man, it’s really great for targeted advertisements to reach the proper audiences with a potential to increase revenue.

Hypothetically speaking, you’re a Houston Texans fan. If you buy some Texans merchandise at Academy, you’ll probably see more online ads for Texans gear in the columns of your next Google search. Sounds harmless, right?

It works well for the advertiser, and could increase convenience for the consumer, so it’s a win-win. Unless your info is leaked or sold as aforementioned.

It was brought to my attention that there were two sides to the story, so I checked it out. (The truth is, there are three sides to every story: one side, the other side, and the truth.)

One author explained that the info on Google’s Double Click Blog was unclear, and elaborated his idea of the truth. If you scroll down to the end of the blog, there’s a disclaimer that the author owns Google stock. I can’t help but suspect there’s some sort of slant if that disclaimer had to be made, but maybe I’m just a skeptic.

With anything, there’s good and bad, it just depends where you stand on the issue. It seems to me the best way to avoid being flooded with targeted advertisements is to shop in brick and mortar stores, and pay cash.

Interestingly, “This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.

Disclaimer: this is not necessarily the truth, but only the author’s attempt at spreading the word about information they happened upon. The reader is responsible for finding his or her own truth. Also, this blog has absolutely nothing to do with the Big Brother satellite; it was just a catchy title.

Image Credit: Tischenko Irina / Shutterstock

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