Google's privacy policy is less than one week from taking effect, and it became a hot topic this week after the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to the company discussing its concerns.

We’re less than one week from the launch of Google’s new privacy policy taking effect, but the controversial new plan from Google has already become a major point of discussion on the web. As a result, the internet marketing community saw developments that could impact search marketing campaigns this week when lawmakers took action to discuss the policy with Google.

Brafton reported on Thursday that the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to Google asking to discuss the new privacy policy. The privacy policy enables Google to track user activity and data across all of its services. Thirty-six AGs from around the United States signed the letter, which addressed a number of concerns they have regarding potential privacy issues caused by Google’s new policy.

Among the major issues cited by the NAAG is the use of location data for users of Android-powered smartphones. Google said in its initial announcement that it understood some may not want to maintain a relationship with Google due to the adjustment. The company encouraged these users to take their data elsewhere. However, Android users uncomfortable with the privacy policy cannot be as flexible, due to service provider contracts and other issues.

While businesses using SEO and other forms of new media marketing may find targeting benefits with the new policy, it’s unclear whether or not the public at large is particularly happy with the adjustment. Set to launch on March 1, users have little time to make a decision, though nearly half have threatened to close their Google accounts as a result.

Part of Google’s new policy and overall attempt to unify its services includes an aggressive push of Google+. On Tuesday, Brafton reported that the company has made it easier to share content on the social network, with the addition of a Share feature on the homepage. This follows a report that the +1 button has surpassed 2 billion shares per month. For social media marketing campaigns, the Share tool is a positive in that it makes it easier for consumers and marketers to spread content.

Users that are not logged-in to their accounts have a similar button which instead prompts them to create an account or log-in.

More elements of the customizable Google search and web experience rolled out this week, with the company providing an option to block PPC ad campaigns. Brafton detailed the new feature on Tuesday. After conducting a search and clicking on a paid search result, users will see an option to block all ads from that company should they bounce back to the SERP.

Some testing showed that after 30 seconds, the option still appeared upon returning to the SERP. Meanwhile, it did not after one minute, which provides some insight into the true length of a bounce in Google’s eyes.

Businesses relying on SEO for their search marketing saw a similar risk in December, when Google rolled out the same function for organic search listings.

Both features place an especially strong focus on quality landing pages as part of a greater content marketing strategy.

All of Google’s search adjustments have left the web marketing industry in an interesting state. Microsoft has been one of the most vocal opponents. However, Brafton reported on Thursday the company launched a similar feature this week, which allows users to link their various social accounts so they can direct anyone searching for them on Bing to their personal or professional pages on the web.

The primary difference between Bing’s Linked Pages and Google’s similar Search, plus Your World is that users must opt-in to Linked Pages, whereas Search, plus Your World is the default setting for logged-in Google users and prioritizes Google+ data over other network.

Both features speak to the value of social media marketing, as Linked Pages requires users to login to the service with their Facebook account. Bing’s integration with Facebook comes in several circumstances, namely the presence of Like data on SERPS – users see content their friends have Liked directly on search pages.

Managing a social media marketing campaign can be difficult. However, a report from Social Ally found that organizations have successfully limited their spending on the channel by outsourcing their campaigns to third-party agencies.

Brafton reported on Thursday that agencies with the capability to create content and share it on social media are ideal fits for these businesses. Relevant content will keep prospects engaged and build a brand’s social clout as more links are shared.

Twitter, especially, is a good platform for engaging potential customers. Brafton reported on Wednesday that the social network surpassed 500 million users. Just weeks after rolling out branded pages and providing all consumer users the new layout, the 500 million-user milestone demonstrates the popularity of the microblogging service.

Based on its current growth rate, it may very well surpass 1 billion users within the next 18 month, according to some estimates. Social media marketing campaigns using the website are already helping companies target new prospects, and this rapid adoption may very well make it an even better tool for businesses.

Developing a social media marketing strategy is part of generating a greater web presence, which Brafton reported on Friday is critical to attracting new customers. A survey from AYTM Market Research found that most consumers conduct research on the web prior to deciding upon a product. Additionally, many have found they discover better deals and greater value online.

Targeting these consumers with social will also help an SEO strategy, which may be among the best ways to reach potential buyers, Brafton found on Tuesday. A separate report from AYTM suggests that PPC campaigns are almost universally ignored by users. Between sponsored search results, banner ads, email ads and mobile display ads, not one method appeals to more than 10.3 percent of respondents, according to the survey.

Avoiding display ads and other forms of direct response outreach in favor of strategic, long-term initiatives may help companies take advantage of the shifting marketing paradigm. Brafton reported on Wednesday that branding initiatives, including a heavy focus on new media marketing, account for 43 percent of marketing budgets. According to Maxifier, the trend means that companies adopting an integrated web marketing campaign that focuses on appealing to prospects organically are better suited to reach prospects on the web.

One way businesses can appeal to prospects on the web is with the use of trending topics as part of content marketing campaigns. In the past, the Super Bowl and Grammy Awards remained atop various trending lists for several days, allowing businesses to leverage the fervor in their content marketing. Sunday’s Oscars will likely provide another chance to infuse content with a timely, relevant topic that will appeal to prospects.

Also, next week search and social marketers will flock to San Jose for SMX, with scheduled talks from Google representatives – Brafton will provide live coverage.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.