Google’s new “My Activity” page, where users can now view their entire internet history, represents another step toward the perfectly personalized ad. It is Google’s latest move to catch up to Facebook in the one area it has held back, using highly personal information for the most accurate marketing messages.
Google made a My Activity page for its users of Android phones, YouTube and search to see all the information it stockpiles on them. And it is giving the users the option to say they want super-specific ads customized just for them based on that data. Google has been moving to incorporate more of its unique insights into advertising and has gradually developed interest-based ads and customer e-mail matching capabilities, when brands bring contact lists to Google for advanced ad targeting.
Here’s what the new personalized ads options mean for users and brands.
What does Google know?
Basically everything. If someone uses an Android phone, Google knows every location users plugged into a map, every venue visited in real life, every search, every voice command, every app opened, every mobile purchase. Now Google has opened a My Activity page that neatly lays it all out.
Even ad tech workers are surprised by just how much Google knows about its users. “It was a holy shit moment, looking at the timeline of activity and getting into geo-locations and looking at voice audio — it’s staggering,” said Garrett MacDonald, evp of sales at Kochava, an ad and data technology firm.
Why is Google doing this?
The old way of targeting ads based on cookies is becoming obsolete. Cookies were never perfect on desktop — people could erase them and multiple people could use the same computer, obscuring who visited which page — so these files containing web data were not always accurate.