As Google announces another great marketing innovation called Customer Match, question arise regarding the true nature of privacy and the trust that Google users place in the company.

With Google’s newly rolled out service, marketers can upload a list of email addresses into an advertising campaign and assign specific ads to be displayed to those individuals as they perform specific searches on Google and other Google affiliate sites, such as YouTube and Gmail.

For example, if someone is on a mortgage company’s email list, the company could upload that list to Customer Match and start targeting those individuals when they perform specific searches related to the mortgage industry on Google. If a specific search is done for a competing mortgage company, a carefully crafted ad could steer them back to the advertiser, who is using Customer Match. Similarly, if someone were to do a generic search on YouTube for “best mortgage advice”, a company could target that individual with an ad during that search.

How It Works

The concept is similar to the current Google AdWords, but because of the ability to target a specific set of individuals, it allows advertisers to only spend their marketing dollars targeting individuals they have previously come in contact with. It could be looked at as a more personalized version of remarketing.

This new marketing tool is designed to compete with Facebook’s “Custom Audience” service, which has the same concept of targeting specific individuals by email addresses for targeted ads, as they browse Facebook. Facebook’s Custom Audience service has been available to marketers since 2012.

From the direct, targeted marketing standpoint this sounds like a great tool, both for Google, who already has the data and the platforms to be able to target specific individuals, and for marketers who would like to continue to target their existing or potentially new customers with targeted ads. From the overall, individual privacy standpoint, the concept continues to enforce the true lack of privacy and misplaced trust that we as users continue to place in large companies such as Google; and in this case, everyday individuals, that we at some point felt comfortable sending a simple email too.

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