Google recently announced it updated its privacy policy for users, covering most of its products (or services) with a streamlined policy about data collection.

Google recently announced it updated its privacy policy for users, covering most of its products (or services) with a streamlined policy about data collection. This is part of the company’s push toward creating an integrated search, social, email and overall web experience customized to individual users. The update brings targeted marketing implications businesses may like – but users are meeting the new privacy policy with mixed responses (at best).

The policy outlines that once users sign into a Google account, the company will use data about them across its services to create a personalized online experience. The privacy update comes off the coat tails of Google’s Search, plus Your World, which already bridges the gap between its social network and its search service by prioritizing Google+ content for logged in users. And Brafton reported earlier this week that the compay is also requiring new email users to make Google+ accounts, thereby expanding its data pool.

Google says, “We’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” For marketers, it means more targeted marketing opportunities. For instance, an ad’s relevancy to different searchers can be informed by their email or Google+ data. Or a user’s web searches can now influence YouTube video suggestions – so catching consumers’ interest via search engine marketing may also increase a brand’s video content visibility.

Marketers are considering opportunities in the privacy update. One man commented on a post in Marketing Land that perphaps Google will even extend data to its Analytics product to help businesses “improve ad targeting and content development.”

Users are not revealing the same potential or realized enthusiasm, but many seem nonchalant. Some attest to the fact that there has been user data crossover for years and, as one contributor said on a Forbes post, “it was silly to think Google would not eventually do this. Everyone using Google should have expected it, as we should expect the same from any company with control of so many of the online services we use every day.” 

But others are not taking the news so well. There are confusing opt-out options, that led one Forbes reader to comment, “They claim it’s only for our benefit, then ram it down our throats without an opt-out.”

Also, one line in Google’s blog post has been deemed “eery,” “ominous” and other unsavory things across the web: “We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location,” the company says. The data integration has some feeling as if Big Brother is always watching – and Brafton has already reported that nearly half of users say they don’t want their social data to influence their search experience, let alone their overall web experience.

For those that don’t like the update, Google has made clear that it isn’t budging on the matter of data use. In its blog, the company says, “If you want to take your information elsewhere you can.”

Even with current outcry against Google’s privacy update, the company has a strong hold in search, representing more than 65 percent of the market as of December 2012. Also, Google+ recently surpassed the 90 million-member mark. Marketers will have to stay tuned to see whether the updated privacy policy really impacts Google usage and to understand the full extent of its marketing implications. In the meantime, more information is available at Google’s Policy and Principles site.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.