Google search and Google advertising are most likely known as a search engine for the average internet consumer. Google became a favored search engine after taking market share from the leading internet search engine, Yahoo. Google approached indexing differently than Yahoo and this factor was later determined to be superior given expansion of internet websites and content. A new website prior to 2002 would submit to Yahoo information that was used to catalogue a website based on what actual individuals at Yahoo would consider appropriate. The rapid expansion of the internet created the proverbial writing on the wall for Yahoo, it would never keep up with this dynamic growth. Google had a proprietary method of automatically indexing all sites on the internet based on their connectivity to other sites. This was the beginning of spider bots that crawled the web recording sites, content, linkages, and also privacy concerns. The founders of Google also had created their secretive algorithm. This algorithm, which was secret and is still protected to this day, assigned page ranking to websites based on the links that site received from other sites. These links were votes of confidence (system of validating content) that resulted in that site being elevated in the search rankings. Yahoo never had a chance, the technology of Google made Yahoo a secondary product.
Positioning of Google Ads
The use of Google by consumers as the primary method of searching for internet content established Google’s position, however, it was the advertising that made them the powerhouse they are today. Advertising revenues accounts for more than 90% of the of the total annual revenue for Alphabet, the parent company of Google (Curwen, 2018). According to the 2019 filings of their annual statements, Alphabet earned $162 billion dollars in total revenue for that year (EDGAR, 2020).
Google advertising has proliferated not only with their search engine, but also with other Google properties, most importantly from the perspective of advertising spaces, YouTube, and DoubleClick. AdWords, now called Google Ads is an advertising platform that enables users to build, customize and refine, bid, analyze, research, and display many forms of advertising campaigns. The service itself is free, however the actual placement of ads is based on a bidding system that each user presents a structured bid for the showing of their ad. You can place it on page one of Google search results by bidding very high, the cost is calculated by the cost-per-click from internet users who see your ad. If it is not clicked on by a user, then there is no charge. These ads are found in various places on the page of a search result. They typically are at the very top of the page, along the right side of the page, or at the very bottom, underneath the relevant search content. Advertisers place bids on keywords and keyword phrases. These phrases can be exact matches, broad matches, or phrase matches…all degrees of how often you want your advertisement to show up in front of a user.
AdSense is a variation of AdWords and is controlled within the AdWords advertising platform. You can designate that your ad shows up on participating websites that have agreed to show Google advertising, when your ad correlates to content on these websites. Often there is a small section that shows ads from Google. There is some control from that participating website’s webmaster as to where these results will display. The participating website collects revenue from users that click on these advertised sites. A concern that many webmasters have is that this action actually dilutes the users on the web page. If a customer clicks on one of these ads, that customer leaves the website.
The services Google offers from advertising also has another function. It is a massive collection for data from internet users as well as businesses that use the services. The advertising platform exhibits this data collection by how advertisers can use various filters that refine their advertising campaigns toward desired customers. The data available is extraordinary, from information entered in profiles to income levels, spending preferences, even locations of internet users. Geo-fencing is a newer advertising approach being used to target groups of customers within a specified location, such as a certain neighborhood. Beacons have been in use for a number of years and are very effective with in-store or proximity customers.
Smart Home Devices, Internet of Things
The introduction of home smart devices is the newest area of data collection for Google as well as companies such as Amazon and Facebook. Data is king. Those that have the data are at a competitive advantage. Marketing efforts are more direct and more likely to produce the desired result. Selling that data to individuals or companies so that they too can be more efficient in their delivery of messaging and communication will pay handsomely for it. The smart home devices collect detailed information that may consist of the number of times the lights are turned on, television or movie preferences, subjects if interest through YouTube views, temperature preferences, ordering habits, number of visitors to home, whether you are home or not…the list is nearly infinite, and so is the collected data.
Customer Privacy Concerns
Data collection is a growing concern for customers as well as lawmakers. The use of this data is often not clearly defined by law. Whereas the recording of a phone conversation is clearly defined by state laws, the recording of statements, tone of voice or the actual presence of a person as a result of these smart home devices is unclear. As an example, “a file recorded by a smart speaker played a crucial role in proving the innocence of a murder suspect” (Kim et al., 2020). Determinations of data privacy are still evolving. Ironically, the collection devices that acquire these data are free without cost to the consumer. Even further, there is no coercion or pressure to participate in the usage of these applications or devices. They provide a service or attributes that are desired by the consumer, in exchange for their free availability, the owners use collected data to further improve the devices and services available. The customer wants these services but has still not decided what they must exchange for them. The advanced technology of these smart devices also have the ability to save lives. Whether it is be the alarming aspects of searches that indicate a debilitative disease, (Tkachenko et al., 2017) or the detector that alerts a family of potentially dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, there is merit in the technology. It is also important to remember that anything that can be valuable or provide quality of life or fortune is vulnerable to theft, misuse, and manipulation. The same is true with data. Remember, we can always unplug.
Curwen, P. (2018). Google. Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, 20(2), 191-194. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1108/DPRG-10-2017-0053
EDGAR, Electronic data gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system.
Kerin, R., & Hartley, S., Marketing: The Core, 8th Ed. Published by McGraw-Hill Education, New York, NY, 2020, IBSN: 978-1-260-08886-1
Kim, S., Park, M., Lee, S., & Kim, J. (2020). Smart Home Forensics—Data Analysis of IoT Devices. Electronics, 9(8), 1215. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/electronics9081215
Tkachenko, N., Chotvijit, S., Gupta, N., Bradley, E., Gilks, C., Guo, W., . . . Jarvis, S. (2017). Google trends can improve surveillance of type 2 diabetes. Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group), 7, 1-10. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1038/s41598-017-05091-9