I read a really interesting story on CNET today about the widespread acceptance of Google’s many software tools, and how we’ve largely grown to accept what we once saw as privacy violations.
Focusing on how and where people draw the line between “creepy” and convenient, writer Elinor Mills discusses everything from the upcoming personal assistant application that will a combination of your behavioral history to anticipate your questions to how readily we now expect to see ads in our email screens.
From an online marketing perspective, I know that we tend to tolerate dominance as long as the products continue to be convenient and effective. We are willing to concede a level of privacy when it helps us build our businesses and run our lives better.
The piece goes into the different perspectives on privacy invasion, from those who say creepy is just a synonym for the unfamiliar to those who think we take the invasions too lightly. Everyone seems to agree that it’s not solely Google’s responsibility we’ve given up a great deal of privacy.
“The fact that things that horrified consumers at one point in time and now many consumers seem to accept it without a second thought, that is probably true for a certain percentage of the population,” with Google products, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, which was among the groups opposing ads in Gmail. “But just because we use it everyday doesn’t make the privacy invasion any less.”
The ultimate issue into which Google may run, though, has less to do with privacy than it does with performance. Google’s recent purchase of Zagat and forced migration of all places to its social network Google+ has irked many entrepreneurs and SEO professionals alike, because it forces us all onto a social network that frankly isn’t that strong on its own. Perhaps, as it has with other products, Google will refine Google+, service issues will subside, and integration will become widespread enough that we’ll grow to accept it the way we do any number of other online marketing realities.
Google is unquestionably one of the innovators trying to push our society further into a world that resembles science fiction, with projects like glasses that record and analyze the world around us. And a consequence of innovation is often that it seems strange to users at first.
But every day, we use products to help business owners that Google developed and now offers to everyone. Webmaster tools, Adwords, Analytics, Gmail, Drive, and Maps are all essential parts of marketing now for even the smallest business. So long as the products continue to help marketers and entrepreneurs grow, I think we’ll continue to get used to even the creepiest innovations.