In his post Google & Behavioral Targeting on searchnewz.com, Anil Batra makes a compelling article about just how much information Google has, and from where.
It's a fascinating read that makes perfect sense.
As Batr points out, while MSN and Yahoo are exploring behavioral targeting based on user generated data from their own sites, Google has it's footprint in so many other places, and is cutting a much, much wider swath.
I mentioned this a few weeks back in the post Clickprinting, Competitive Intelligence & Big Brother. The disconcerting thing about Google Analytics is that, well, it's Google Analytics, an open invitation for them to track literally everything from usability to content to search through the purchase from any given web site and site owners have basically handed them the keys to the kingdom.
It has both upside and downside.
Imagine you work for a PR company and you are the lead on planning a product launch. You run some queries on home pregnancy tests. You run some queries on the morning after pill. You want personal interviews. You search an abortion clinic. You even call your doctor to make an appointment and put it in your Google calendar to get some professional, objective opinion. You send a Gmail to an associate for her advice.
Nice. In principle.
You go home where you plan on getting some work done. Of course, multitasker you are, you are also making dinner and you get up and leave your computer on its Gmail account. Your husband walks by. Or your already sceptical teenage daughter.
Google search history doesn't differentiate between environments with its search history. A search from home and a search from work are the same thing in Google's eyes with search history on.
As with search, behavioral targeting has a context to it in all cases.
For the moment, it's not only Yahoo and MSN who need to be nervous.
Have a good one.
~ The (SEP) Guy