According to a letter sent yesterday from the regulators to Google CEO Larry Page (which was obtained by Bloomberg News), they want the search giant to “modify its practices when combining data across services.”
European countries are tougher on privacy than the U.S., but U.S. legislators have also questioned whether Google has been playing fast and loose with its privacy policies. Google recently ponied up a record $22.5 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission that it circumvented the privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser. The agency is also said to be preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Google, which it believes abuses its dominance in the search business.
At the I-Com Global Summit today in Rome, a pair of attendees of the big data conference spoke to Adweek about the developments. Though they admitted they weren't shocked, at the same time they said it's not great news for advertisers.
Michael Kaushansky, svp of insights and analytics at Havas Media USA, said there could be related setbacks for Google’s ambition to serve as a global single-stacked data solution for advertisers when it comes to information on its users. “You’d have to rely on fragmentation,” he said. “There could be additional cost to the advertiser because then you’d have to marry up a Google solution from an ad-serving perspective with third-party data.”
Kaushansky added that Google’s nascent audience-verification product for display advertising “might be dead in the water outside of the U.S. Their workhorse, search, could also be negatively impacted as they try to evolve that product. One of the features they’ve been trying to move to is audience-based search targeting. In the U.S., our clients have found that very exciting. Once again, that could now be an issue [outside the U.S.].”
Vicky Brock is a European Web data veteran who has worked on loyalty programs for Tesco and is currently heading a retail-based startup called Clear Returns. She said, “There are cultures and individuals that have no desire for data privacy. But there are also environments like Europe that put it at the core of their philosophy for historic and legislative reasons. They are not being uncool. It’s just a mind-set that’s different."