New Google Privacy Policy Expands Ad Targeting Options

YouTube activity, search history added to the mix

Google's change in its privacy policies, announced earlier this week, was widely covered for its implications for consumers. But it also will mean changes for advertisers. 

Google’s privacy policy change will merge more than 60 of the company’s privacy policies into a single document. The consolidation, which takes effect March 1, means Google can connect signed-in users’ activity across Google products. Privacy advocates have criticized the change’s cumbersome opt-out process.

The policy change will for the first time allow companies to run ads across Google’s products based on consumers’ logged-in Web history, such as Google search queries or YouTube activity, the company told Adweek.

Only activity logged while consumers are signed into their Google accounts can be used for this cross-product targeting. Google will not link consumers’ Google account information with browsing data collected through its DoubleClick cookie.

One possible result of the privacy change is that a consumer could see an ad in Gmail that was served because of a video viewed on YouTube.

Privacy has been a major issue for Google in the past year. In March, the company settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that Google violated consumers’ privacy with the February 2010 launch of Google Buzz. As a result, Google agreed to establish a comprehensive privacy program that would be audited biannually.

Three months later, the Federal Trade Commission notified Google that it was investigating whether the company's search advertising business violates federal antitrust law by favoring the company's own sites or by leveraging its search engine market share to inflate bid prices.