Friday, October 11, 2013

 

Google Ads Will Feature You

Google Changes Terms to Add User Data to Ads.




Users of Google's services could soon see their profile name, profile photo or comments appear in online advertising.

 The company updated its Terms of Service to allow them to add users' names, photos or comments in a series of ads called Shared Endorsements. 

In a statement issued Friday detailing the changes, Google stresses users will have full control over whether they share information through these endorsements.

"On Google, you're in control of what you share," reads a statement from the company. "This update to our Terms of Service doesn't change in any way who you've shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future."

The endorsements would appear across Google services including Google Play, Maps and Search. For example, if you rated an album or song on Google Play, your friends will see that activity; or any +1's given to businesses might be included in Search advertisements.

Users can choose to enable Shared Endorsements and who can view them.

The Terms of Service take effect November 11.

Including users in online advertising has become a heated issue among customers of services who don't want their information tied to any ads. Last year, Instagram backtracked on changes to its privacy policy that suggested the photo sharing service could feature user images in ads.

[ Time to reset your permissions? ]

Google on Friday altered its Terms of Service to allow it to include users' Google+ profile names and pictures in Google products, including advertisements, reviews and other commercial offerings.

Google grants itself permission to do this by default, but allows users to opt-out of appearing in ads through its new Shared Endorsements in Ads setting. The company attempts to discourage users from revoking the permission it assumed they would grant by displaying this message when the checkbox is deselected: "Are you sure? When you disable this setting, your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations."

 The opt-out option is limited in scope, however: Google will still employ users' names and photos in Shared Endorsements related to reviews, +1, follows and other promotional services. You were expecting something for nothing?

Google's move echoes Facebook's decision in August to revise its Proposed Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Facebook granted itself the right to employ users' names, profile pictures, content and information, without compensation, in ads and sponsored content. Facebook, however, has not offered a way to opt out, which also isn't available to users who would prefer to be visible in Graph Search.


Facebook was forced to delay its policy changes after privacy groups and lawmakers complained that Facebook was violating its 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission by failing to give users a say in the change. The agreement stipulated that Facebook had to obtain consent from users before making policy changes. Facebook's chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, told the Los Angeles Times last month that the company wasn't making changes so much as providing additional information.

It remains to be seen whether that subtle distinction will fly with regulators and whether Google will face similar blowback.

On Twitter, marketers see Google's entry into the selling of user endorsements as an affirmation of the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Outside of the world of advertising, observers are less sanguine.
New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum declared, "This is despicable and makes me hate Google."

Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman proposed opting out as a form of protest. "If enough folks opt-out of Shared Endorsements, maybe we can remind Google to innovate, not ape Facebook's bad ideas," he said in a Twitter posting.

The last time Google presented a change of this magnitude was in 2012, when the company said it planned to unify its privacy policies so it could treat its diverse portfolio of online services as a single service in matters of privacy. Though there was considerable outcry at the time, the change went through and Google emerged with even greater marketing power: a unified user data set. Expect more of the same: sound and fury, signifying nothing, followed by friend-fortified product pitches.

The big data market is not just about technologies and platforms -- it's about creating new opportunities and solving problems.

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