Google’s against behavioural targeting. That’s what the company told journalists in July, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s been able to stay out of the way of the backlash against the practice that’s hit some of its other competitors, including AOL’s Tacoda (TWX).
That may be changing.
The Financial Times is reporting that Google has yet to follow through on its earlier pledge to change the way tracking “cookies” work to make them less invasive. Google had made the promise after announcing its DoubleClick acquisition last year, as a sop to privacy advocates. Originally Google was going to use “crumbled cookies” — smaller pieces of personal data — to do this.
So why hasn’t it happened yet? Google CEO Eric Schmidt offers some guidance:
- Regulatory hurdles — haven’t been able to get around to it until recently. “It turns out that by the nature of the rules we could not talk to DoubleClick until now.”
- It’s hard! “What we’ve discovered about cookies is that every question leads to a one-hour conversation.”
But is there something deeper? The FT suggests that there is, quoting Google insiders who say that in the year since the DoubleClick bid was announced, behavioural targeting has become more accepted, and Google is no longer convinced that the privacy concerns are valid.
And, oh yeah — there’s one more reason, unnammed Googlers says: The company never planned on doing this unless the competition did, too.
Executives say there was never any intention of adopting the ideas in isolation and the company would only have gone ahead if there had been wider agreement in the online advertising industry.
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