Google announced Tuesday that it [our emphasis] “is accepting third-party advertising tags on the Google content network in North America. This will empower advertisers to work with approved third parties to serve and track display ads, including rich media ads, across the Google content network through AdWords, giving them more options, flexibility and control over their campaigns.” Among the companies it lists that can track us through the Google network includes its own DoubleClick, as well as Eyeblaster, Eyewonder, Pointroll, Unicast, Dynamic Logic, and Interpolls.
Google has created a three-part video series on YouTube to “explain” how ad serving works. But like so much of Google’s privacy PR, it doesn’t really explain what the goals are of its expanded ad service. It also attempts to minimize the very real privacy concerns. Google uses its online ad industry Orwellian-like Doublespeak to suggest that the profiling and targeting of users is “enhancing their web experience.” Google could have included in its YouTube script what it is telling prospective YouTube ad sales persons: “that Google technology enables the world’s biggest advertisers to enjoy immediate and accountable communication with the consumer…to drive revenue… to top-tier brand advertisers and agencies…[via]… a next-generation advertising platform.” It could have said that its expanded online ad platform was designed, as its job announcement for a New York-based “Google Financial Services Account Executive” states, to help “the biggest financial services companies in the world. This includes investment, credit card, tax, banking and insurance companies.” Or as it explains in its “Google entertainment account executive” job announcement, “you’ll help to provide integrated, cross-platform advertising solutions for media and entertainment clients including TV, movie, gaming, music and web publishing companies.”
Google’s blog announcement for the opening up of its network to 3rd party ad servers, and its three-part series, could have detailed the range of data being collected and tracked by its DoubleClick and now other companies. That would include DoubleClick’s “Rich Mediaâ€™s Audience Interaction Metrics package,” which “lets you analyze data on more than 100 unique interactions in every creative unit including multiple exit links, counters, timers and video metrics.” Or Eyeblaster’s “advanced …powerful tracking and optimization capabilities” that examine “unique viewer behavior– why look at impressions and clicks when you can look at the behavior of individual customers.” Or Unicast’s “User Engagement Index (UEI), that measures a userâ€™s interaction with a rich media ad and provides a score made up of key engagement metrics.” Or what its now 3rd party approved from Eyewonder collects, such as “track all video interactions, rich media interactions, brand interactions and time, and …Custom tracking… to also measure metrics critical to your specific campaign.”
Google really requires both a privacy and online marketing ombudsman, to say the least. They have a very hard time being straight-forward about what information about us is being collected, how it’s really used, etc. Perhaps independent observers and consumer advocates whose mission is to help the company be more honest with itself, its employees, and its users would help. Meanwhile, we will just have to help regulators, policymakers, and the public better understand what Google isn’t really telling us.
PS: This announcement also has implications for mobile privacy. We think this quote from Mobile Marketer is very telling (hey, Google. Put him on your GoogTube channel!): “As mobile advertising evolves and matures, advertisers will demand consistent, in-depth analytics and immersive consumer engagement frameworks,â€ Mr. Rahav said [Amit Rahav, VP, Marketing, Eyeblaster]. â€œ…To be able to retain client confidence and quality of user experience, Google defined a process for certifying trusted partners like Eyeblaster and other companies. Defining such rules of engagement creates the win-win ecosystem that helped scale Web advertising and stands to do the same for the mobile world.”
PPS: Perhaps Google should have addressed this, from its new 3rd Party approved partner Interpolls: “Interpolls is the only rich media company providing a complete end-to-end suite of integrated marketing solutions. In addition to rich media advertising, Interpolls provides clients with interactive promotions, live on-air voting, site polling, online sweepstakes and more. All of Interpolls services can be integrated into its proprietary platform, offering customers tremendous convenience while maximizing reach, awareness and results. â€œExpanding our distribution network to include the Google content network was a critical piece needed to provide our clients with the industryâ€™s largest rich media distribution to reach their customers and prospects without limitations,â€ said Peter Kim, CEO and president, Interpolls. â€œThe agreement opens the door for our clients to increase their distribution through the Google content network, and provides Google publishers and advertisers access to our innovative rich media advertising and widget solutions.â€
PPPS (and we promise this is the last one!). Google also announced that several research firms were now allowed to work with its network and, we assume, help “measure performance” of Internet ads. They include Dynamic Logic, IAG Research, InsightExpress, and FactorTG. For example, IAG (now owned by Nielsen) says it “is the only panel-based measurement service that provides continuous evaluation of Internet ad performance and a direct comparison to TV ad effectiveness.” In another words, to help grow Google’s ad business it has, understandably, opened up its service to the network of tracking, analysis, and interactive media delivery services which comprise the world of marketing. But, we believe, Google should have explained all this clearly to users, and not–in our view–gloss over what this all means.