As the Internet encroaches more on our lives than ever before, many people are finding themselves uncomfortable with the ability of online media to peek into our every little move. The fact that what we do online is probably personal as often as it is commercial, if not more, creates a situation where there is good reason for people to worry. Privacy concerns are a very real part of the growing internet phenomenon, and Google seems to be addressing those concerns, particularly with one recent move that is of great interest to internet marketers.
Google recently announced that they will be giving users the option to be ignored by Google Analytics, which means that data will not be gathered and stored when searching. The opt-out feature will come in the form a browser plug-in, and will be released within the next couple weeks. As soon as Google’s engineers put the finishing touches on the plug-in, it should be hitting the scene.
For many marketers, this may be cause for alarm because analytics provide a very important tool to SEO experts. In fact, when online marketers pitch their services to brick and mortar businesses, one of the biggest selling points is the ease and accuracy of online tracking as compared to traditional advertising mediums. These offline marketing tactics are often referred to as “spray n’ pray” marketing because that is essentially what people who pay the outrageous fees for some print media ads are doing if they haven’t taken the right moves to monitor ads.
This new turn of events certainly does have the potential to put a huge dent in analytics data and the ability to tailor marketing efforts to individualized Google search. The thing is that if you look at many recent actions Google has taken, you will see that before this they seemed to be heading in the direction of putting more emphasis on individualized Google search.
In other words, Google has recently been heading towards less privacy rather than more. So what gives? Why the sudden contradiction in Google’s direction?
Well, the obvious answer is that Google faces heavy opposition among privacy supporters, and even as a marketer myself, I believe these people have good reason to be concerned. That said, in my opinion, Google’s recent development is not as telling as it might seem.
This is nothing more than an “insurance” move put in place to silence the opposition. Google knows what I myself have seen about the online world—a very small percentage of people will bother with privacy measures no matter how easy you make it for them.
Consider for just a moment how willing the general population has been to give private information for everyone to see on social networking platforms. Even people who 10 years ago would have held on to their social security number for dear life have no qualms making home addresses public information or handing over private details to corporations for the smallest incentives.
And by giving that option to protect your privacy, Google minimizes the voice of the opposition without really affecting the data gather. The citizens don’t seem to care too much anymore. In my honest opinion, marketers have nothing to worry about as far as the value of their data; the percentage of those who skirt around Google Analytics will be next to insignificant. If the trend of privacy becoming a thing of the past worries you, however, you have plenty of reason to be concerned…