Why Did Google Ads Change Their Policy

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As I’ve written before, technology companies are skilled in the art of making decisions without much real logic behind them. Even now, Google Ads most recent policy change isn’t as drastic as the examples I listed before, yet it is equally mind boggling. Your name and face photo can and will be used in Google Ads from 11th November 2013, unless you opt out.

Google’s stock (GOOG) recently entered the “$1000+ dollar club“, closing at $1,011 and thus pushing their current market value to around $334bn. Now, the question that forces itself is: with all these record profits, why is Google making such a rash decision to start using your face in their online ads, using your Google+ profile as the source of your photos.

Google Ads or Your Face Ads?

Obviously, this is a very controversial move, especially in light of a recent data-sharing scandal Google was involved in. Nobody likes the idea of their faces being used to promote who-knows what product without both their permission, or them getting paid for it. A US senator even asked the FTC if this policy violates a 2011 privacy settlement over its now-defunct Buzz service.

Google Ads using users' content!

Google Ads using users’ content!

In this article, I”ll try to make some sense of this decision, and list 3 of the possible reasons behind it:

1 – Google Are Temporarily Invincible

With Google’s stock up to a staggering $1,011, they can get away with one or two controversial moves without much backlash from stockholders. The new ad policy seems to be one of these moves. I have a feeling that Google wanted to integrate this policy for awhile now and if you look hard enough you can probably find some clues to this.

With the stock up this high they can easily get away with it. In my opinion, large companies just don’t care much about community backlash in today’s world. Many will rant and rave about it, but very few will do anything beyond that and will continue to use the service. As for myself I”d prefer Google over Yahoo any day.

2 – Falling In Line With Facebook

Recently, Google announced a partnership with Facebook for its advertising strategy, targeted towards DoubleClick’s clients. The way I see it, Google doesn’t seem to care much about its Google+ social network, knowing it’s a maybe lost cause. On the other hand, Facebook tried a very similar method of advertising (dubbed Sponsored Stories) in early 2011. And in light of this recent partnership Google seem to trying to “fall fit” into Facebook’s way of advertising. Personally I see this reason as the least likely but it’s worth dealing the cards on the table.

3 – People Trust Other People’s Reviews

Let’s push away the corporate politics for a moment and get down to the most basic reason why Google is doing this in the first place; People trust reviews. An online study showed that over 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as professional recommendation. And that’s exactly the reason that fake reviews is such a large booming industry.

Or rather, Google Ads don't be evil

Or rather, Google Ads don’t be evil

I”ll put it this way, who would you rather trust; a manufacturer’s description or your best friend’s recommendation? Now this is where Google’s perfect plan begins to unfold. A personal recommendation pulled “directly from their social network” along with their faces to show it’s a good honest person rather than a corporate shill. If I’m a potential advertiser, then what’s not to love?

What’s Next?

Google are temporarily invincible, it won’t last forever. But will they try something like this again? I don’t think they”ll rush to do another risky move like this one soon (after the news of their stocks is over.) Companies like Google are so successful because they stay on top of the newest trends, the real faces on the ads is the newest trend at the moment and eventually it”ll come to pass and another one will take over, at that point you can be sure Google will jump on the opportunity to monetize it, that’s simply a matter of fact in today’s world.

When prompted on the privacy concerns of this new program, Google simply replied: “When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo.” And the good news is they aren’t lying, If you”re concerned about Google using your photo, you can fight back and opt out of Google’s service. Here’s a guide Wired.com made on how to do so.

Featured image by Carlos Luna / Don’t be evil banner by Steve Rhodes