George Orwell’s “Big Brother” concept has been around for more than half a century — and since the inception of the Internet and social networks, even the most stoic and “rational” individuals have considered the possibility of its reality. While we cannot confirm that we are not part of the Truman Show, we do know that tech giants — like Google — don’t actually have the entire picture. They’re just really good at making assumptions. And you can see those assumptions right here, right now.
George Orwell’s “Big Brother” concept has been around for more than half a century — and since the inception of the Internet and social networks, even the most stoic and “rational” individuals have considered the possibility of its reality. While we cannot confirm that we are not part of the Truman Show, we do know that tech giants — even with all of the personal information they have access to — don’t actually have the entire picture. They’re just really good at making assumptions.
So, what does Google think they know about you? Well, you can find out right now at adssettings.google.com. As long as you are logged into a browser using a Google-hosted email (a gmail account, for example), Google will present its assumptions about who you are.
Because I have no real regard for my personal privacy (just kidding), I’ve provided a quick screenshot of a portion of what Google assumes about me:
Super interesting, right?! A lot of these categories make total and complete sense — age range, correct. Gender, correct. I have insurance through USAA, work at Swello Marketing, I’m active on LinkedIn, shop at Walmart (but where’s Target?), and bought a Meritage Home. I also love baking, live in Arizona, have an iPhone, and am passionate about advertising and marketing. Some of the other categories, on the other hand, didn’t quite make sense at first.
You might see a similar trend on your own Google assumptions page and wonder to yourself, “where is Google getting this from?” Well, let me help you find the answer.
Take this interest, for example: “American Football.” Google thinks I’m interested in American Football, but in all reality, I have close to zero interest. BUT, just a few weeks ago, I was *forced* to watch the Super Bowl with my in-laws, and I spent half the time Googling “what the crap is happening in this game” and “when does the Super Bowl halftime show start,” queries that Google’s artificial intelligence put together to create this well-intended assumption.
You might be able to think this through for some of the things Google has pegged you as being, like the “Accounting and Auditing” interest. No, Google, no one is interested in accounting or auditing, it’s just tax season. Others, though, even if you sit on it, might still lack real sense. Here’s how Google tells us it identifies these traits:
Using information you provide to Google when you set up a Google account (like your birthdate and gender)
Monitoring your Google search activity, or other Internet activity while you are signed into Google
Recognizing how you’ve interacted with ads that you’ve seen on Google platforms
Noting the kinds of websites you visit frequently
Seeing the kinds of apps you have on your phone and interact with
Noticing newsletters or company discounts you’ve signed up for using your Google-hosted email address
Really this just means that even if it doesn’t make sense to you, it makes sense to Google — and all of this data is used by Google to “personalize ads so they’re more useful to you.” You being here at swellomarketing.com, for example, is being tracked while you read this sentence. While this might sound like a complete invasion of privacy, Google does work to protect your personal information, and personalized ads aren’t always a bad thing. Oftentimes I add something to my cart or look at an item or service online, and within the next few hours or days, I see a discount or sale that I would never have seen if Google didn’t make these assumptions about who I am and what I do.
As a Google user, you also have the option to add or remove these assumptions from your personal list, to get rid of ads that might not interest you or to help you find things that you are actually looking for. Because Google allows you to opt in or out of its services, you also have the option to turn all of this ad personalization off. Unfortunately for you, this doesn’t mean that you’ll see less ads online — it just means that you’ll see less relevant ads.
For digital marketers, specifically on Google, this personalized information is a powerful resource for targeting the right audiences and remarketing to potential customers. While we as marketers cannot find your email address or your name unless you give it to us directly, you are lumped together with millions of other Google users into categories (such as your age range or an interest in grilling) that allows us to serve you customized ads.
Here at Swello, we pride ourselves in privacy, but we are always happy to get ads to the right people based on what Google (or other digital platforms) assume about you. Our social media and PPC ad experts are ready to build your brand in a not-so Big Brother kind of way, by understanding your business, consumers, and digital marketing trends. And, as long as your ads personalization is still turned on, you should see a Swello Marketing ad in the next few days. That’s how you’ll know we’re doing our jobs right.
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