Ever consider a career in advertising? You might be unwittingly embarking on one right now thanks to Google. Recently the search company announced a change to its terms of service that will see the name and photographs of some users in advertising.
It means that anyone who has ever clicked +1 or wrote a Google review could be featured in a ‘shared endorsement’ Google ad. This is nothing new to Facebook users, whose ‘likes’ have been featured in the social networks sponsored stories for quite some time now.
Privacy pundits are up in arms over the change, citing the growing invasion of Internet advertisers into users’ private lives, but anyone who feels uncomfortable with social ads can change his own privacy settings, or can simply stop clicking those endorsement buttons.
The concept of the user-as-the-product is nothing new in the Internet world. Either you pay to use a service or your data will be used in some way, usually to make money. It might include your demographic information, your search behaviour, your geography, or any other datum that distinguishes a user. This has been normal practice since the dawn of search and Internet advertising.
Endorsement advertising is here to stay. There is a lot of value to be had from these trusted recommendations, and not just for brands and advertisers.
The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ is highly effective in reducing the white noise of the Internet. Having online friends influencing the ads that a user is served provides context and relevancy and therefore the ads are more meaningful.
This approach already heavily influences how people get their news. Social media is seen as an important news source by millions of users, and for Millennials, it’s THE primary source for news and information.
It just makes sense for advertising to follow suit.
The article was originally posted on the Thornley Fallis blog.
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