Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Google and Facebook: More similar than you might think

Google and Facebook are physically located fairly close to each other, in Mountain View and Palo Alto, California respectively, but they do very different things: Google is primarily a search engine, and Facebook is a social networking site. Dig beneath the surface, however, and you'll find that the two companies are actually very similar: Both of them sell your personal information in order to make money.

Google uses your search queries to feed you targeted advertising. If you use Gmail, Google displays ads based on the subject and contents of your emails. It targets ads to you on YouTube based on what you watch. If you use a Google location service, such as Google Maps, it points you to advertisers in your area. Google claims that it doesn't warehouse or mine the information that you give it, but it sucks up enormous amounts of data, and it's nonsensical to believe that Google isn't correlating that information.

Facebook, on the other hand, gets you to give it as much personal information as it can so that it can send you targeted advertising. The company also sells your information to its partners so that they can send you advertising and target their sales messages to you. Facebook correlates the information that users provide with that of their friends to build a comprehensive demographic and psychographic profile of each user. Most of Facebook's "initiatives" over the years have been attempts to convince its users to give it more of their personal information, changes in policies to make more of that information public, or programs for monetizing that information.

Whenever either company introduces a new product or service, it's important to ask: How it will generate more salable information or offer more opportunities to monetize that information? At their core, that's what Google and Facebook are all about.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Post a Comment