Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Why Does Google Do What Google Does?
I have had some experience with building real-time behavioural
targeting systems, so I think I've developed a new appreciation for the
strategy behind google's seemingly disconnected moves.
They are building a real time customer profile based on your real identity.
This is a very valuable commodity as it gives google the ability to
sell high value campaigns to advertisers.
This may or may not seem obvious to you, but it struck me in a tetris
like way how all the bricks fit together if you are trying to build up
a real time customer categorization system that can be used across all
properties. Other companies might do the same thing using a portfolio
approach. But google has taken a less direct Sun Tzu Art of War
If you notice google doesn't create word processors or accounting
programs. Almost everything they do is about getting content and
getting you to provide an identity to them.
* In google's wifi network they will track what you see. And they
know where you are at so they can do local ad targeting and build up a
profile based on where you travel. Many people don't know that location
based services are built into wifi networks.
* If you use their
local search they track everything important enough for you to keep.
* When you use their future micro
payment system they'll know what you buy.
* If you use their proxy server they
can tell what you see.
* If you use their search they can tell what you see both by
your key words and what you click on.
* If you store your email with them
they can tell what you see.
* If you use their VOIP network they can tell
what you see, who you talk to, and who talks to you.
* If you use their
blog they can tell what you see. If you use their map they can tell
where you live and what you are interested in.
* And finally, when you use their upcoming free high speed network they
will have created something so sticky you'll rarely be out sight of
their vast army of digital observers. They will be able to do a complete analysis on all your traffic patterns and content.
Of what use is all this you may ask? They can't show ads everywhere, so
what's the point? True, they may not be able to show ads everywhere,
but they can learn enough about you from all their different sources so
that in the mediums where they can present you ads those ads will be
amazingly well targeted. More targeted ads are worth a lot more to
advertisers. And nobody will be able to build a profile of you better
By observing what you actually do and say, google will build a much
better profile than they could get by pummeling you with a 1000
detailed surveys. What you do and say during your daily life is real,
people fib when filling out surveys or profiles.
If you mention hawaii on a voice call they can in real time adjust you
profile that you may be interested in travel, car rentals, etc. If you
use their map to look at a lot of areas centered around a certain
location they could deduce that you probably live their which opens up
a lot of local advertising opportunities. If people from universities
read your blog that says something about you. If your local disk
contains a lot of Country Western music that says a lot about you. And
Add all this up together and they can build a remarkably accurate profile of your interests as they happen.
If you think you can hide behind fake names and IP addresses you can't.
For many of the more advance services they'll know how you are. Even if
they don't they can do a pretty good job guessing by doing a content
analysis of your word usage and sentence structure combined with a
small network analysis of who you talk to and who talks to you.
From the outside it's easy to underestimate how much companies are
willing to pay for this kind of content and ad targeting. But they are
willing to pay a lot, so all google's efforts have a big payoff.
I am not going to say the world is going to end or anything. Everything
you do with google is voluntary. I am just admiring the view.
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7/11/2006; 12:40:26 PM.