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January 23, 2013

Google – One Way or the Other, We’re Gonna Get YOU

I talk a lot of smack about Google, but I need to come clean with you guys about something. I simply adore the Google Chrome browser for general web surfing. It’s lightweight, highly intuitive, and a downright pleasure to use. However, I never sign into my Google account on Chrome. Google always gripes me out, chastising me by taunting, “You’re missing out!” as soon as I hit the homepage.

At first, I thought this was nothing more than a minor annoyance, but then I learned that Google recently placed a job ad with a description specifically aimed at driving up user sign-in rates. Brian Ussery discovered the listing and reported his findings on his personal blog. The most interesting part of the story, however, is Brian’s uuber-provocative write-up dissecting Big G’s motives.

Looking at the Listing

Brian was smart enough to grab the following screenshot before the Google listing disappeared into the Internet abyss:

It’s a little small, so here’s a close-up of the portion Brian highlighted above:

“The mission of the search growth marketing team is to make that information universally accessible by enabling and educating users around the world to search on Google, search more often, and search while signed-in. Research and analysis has shown that putting Google search access points at the fingertips of users is an effective way of achieving these goals. And the more users that are signed in to Google, the better we can tailor their search results and create a unified experience across all of the Google products that they use.”

Long story short, Google’s so hungry to get you signed in that the company’s willing to pay someone good money to figure out how to convince you. And do you blame ’em? If you’re signed in, then Google gets the juicy insider info needed to provide super-personalized search results for you, and (as Brian points out) better target ads. Google+, he notes, is a major component of the search giant’s sign-in plan. However, much to the company’s chagrin, the social network has nowhere near the viral likability of rivals such as Facebook and Twitter. G+ is growing, yes, but most of the people who use the service do so for the business benefits alone.

Google’s Catch-22

As Brian pointed out in his post, Google has a serious setback hindering its growth: rival social networks block G from accessing their astronomical database of user-generated content. This lockout is detrimental to Big G’s bottom line. The majority of the blocked content contains valuable personal info that Google would love to use in order to serve relevant ads.

Hence, Google+ jumped to the top of G’s list of priorities. Although the company has a much greater audience reach than Facebook, Facebook has exponentially more personal data on each member. Google+ is a way for Big G to counteract this problem by harvesting more personal data from searchers than it could uncover otherwise.

But Google’s still waiting for that goldmine. James Whittaker, a former development director for Google, wrote about the company’s new direction in a blog post manifesto defending his decision to leave. James grew frustrated with G’s shift from innovator to relentless competitor, and he noted this about the company’s push to make G+ a success:

“A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.”

Obviously, Google needed to do something bold to make G+ catch on. The answer? Tie all Google’s offerings together under the umbrella of a verified Google account and focus on forcing sign-ins.

Google: Multiple Services, One Goal

Last January, ZDNet reported that Google was testing the idea of automatically creating a Gmail account and a Google+ profile for people who set up new Google accounts. The author updated the post in November, stating that Google began a full-scale (and very hush-hush) rollout of the new automatic signup feature. This is the statement G’s PR people issued when questioned about the quiet new change:

If you’ve signed up for a Google account any time during the last year or so, you have a Gmail account and a Google+ profile – whether or not you decide to use it. But Google’s not stopping there. According to Google Support, if you want to use Google Play on any of your mobile devices, you’ll need a Google account for that as well. Plus, you’ll need a Google Wallet account tied to your Google account if you want to buy apps or any other paid content.

See what they did there? Google is slowly filling in every possible escape hatch for users who want to avoid signing in. That’s their answer to their whole “lack of personal user data” conundrum. G’s given up on trying to entice you to use its services – the search titan has opted to pursue the easy route instead: leveraging its reach and Internet domination to penetrate every aspect of your online life and quite literally force your hand.

Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.

19 Responses to “Google – One Way or the Other, We’re Gonna Get YOU

    avatar SAK says:

    I dont like Google but have to use Chrome any ways

    this is i think the best complement for Chrome browser facilities 🙂

    another nice attempt by Nell yet to mention


    Very interesting Nell. I follow your newsletters very closely and it is very interesting to be kept up to date on how things are evolving. Just waiting now for FB to actually launch their search engine. It has to happen at some point. Google stepped into their territory, why not step back into theirs.

    avatar Alan Robertson says:

    Old Google was great – innovative and practical. New Google only wants more personalised ways to sell you things. Until Google realises that you cannot force people to do things they do not want or need then they are not going to get very far. If they want more people to use Google+ then they are going to have to make it better than other social websites and not try and force people to use it. It’s the equivalent of being asked if you want to “go large” in a fast food joint which you don’t want or being hassled in a bank to take a “review of your finances” when paying in a cheque – people just don’t like it.

    avatar Simon says:

    The only problem is that this is not a surprise. It always starts off as a free for all and ends up with a company that can’t lose for a while.

    With Eric taking less of a role, Google are certainly becoming much, much more aggressive.

    However, you didn’t mention that their main business (clicks) are in decline with only increased volume countering it. And the Google bogey is mobile search, apps, and direct searches (like Amazon) threatening their cash cow.

    What will happen when Google’s real money maker is put in jeopardy? Businesses only pretend to be nice when they’re winning…

    avatar Conran says:

    I saw this coming when G+ started. It was a logical step to take.

    The problem is, James Whittaker’s daughter is spot-on, Google was far too late to the party. There is no way they will be able to compete with FB unless they somehow destroy it completely and increase their numbers to make it appealing to a large collection of people.

    And, as FB is still managing go cling to the top spot even after all the privacy changes over the last few years, it doesn’t look like people are able to give up that addiction for something else, even if G+ were considered good.

    I looked at G+ once, it’s a mess. I don’t consider myself backward when it comes to internet know-how (I’m a content creator) but the soulless nature of it, the user-unfriendliness of it, the myriad options completely baffle me and give me a headache within moments. I don’t have time to learn how to use yet another site, even if there were reasons for me to do so.

    And of course Google is also missing a fundamental flaw with their dastardly plan to ensnare us all… we DO NOT WANT personalized search results!

    I want useful and varied results in response to a search, I don’t want to be TOLD by a Google algorithm what it decides I will be interested in!

    Would anyone want to walk into a restaurant and be given a small menu with things the chef thinks they’ll want to eat based on their previous meals in all the other restaurants in town? That’s not the way a search engine should be, and I think it could spell the end of Google if they force this on their users.

    This New Year I changed my start page to Bing, and I stopped using FB. Things are good. My social life did not change because I haven’t logged in to FB to see what a friend had for breakfast, and my searching has been more productive too with the added bonus of supporting a worthy underdog.

    Google and FB have too much power, it’s time both were taken down a peg or two.

    avatar Graham Ginsberg says:

    There are so many issues with Google I couldn’t begin to mention them, but I am no fan. Their tactic is to offer a service for free, then manipulate the service that its either a paid service or you lose privacy. The good ole bait and switch. People aren’t stupid and have caught onto Google’s underhanded tactics

    avatar Jim says:

    thinking on their motto, “Don’t be evil” *s ~

    One person’s ‘Bait ‘n Switch’ is another person’s ‘Try Before You Buy’ – a matter of perspective really.

    All of their tools have been quite handy for me when bringing a new client online with a small business. With one log-in I can help a person access everything from a single dashboard with top notch support that actually responds to requests and help files easy to find and understand.

    As a web user, I use a script blocking program to keep them from following me around and seeing everything I play with. (At least in my mind it feels safer)

    I do agree that their social network attempts seem a flop so far but not everyone wants the kind of contact Facebook offers where we get news of people’s daily activities moment-to-moment.

    avatar conna says:

    great article as always,

    If Google wants people signed in, then they shouldn’t sign me out constantly. Every time I want to use a Google service, I find that I have to log in again.

    I may have missed it, but you don’t mention that when you are signed into Google, the search terms you use are then hidden under Google Analytics “Not Provided” data. Surely finding what visitors to your site are searching for can only be good for business and the customer?

    For my business in the UK, I’m seeing about 30% of my searched for keywords hidden under this. I wonder if anyone in the US has any comparable data?

    avatar Tanya says:

    I agree! I manage a number of Analytics accounts for my clients and its so frustrating not to have data on logged in Google searches. If they want people to sign in to capture our info they should at least share it with their Analytics users.

    I don’t have any US data but I’m in New Zealand and the ratio of ‘not provided’ keywords for my clients is also about 30% of their organic keyword searches.

    avatar Steve K says:

    The way I see it, Google Chrome is straight up sypware, a hostile invasion of the user’s computer – and life, and mind. Follow a hyperlink – any hyperlink from any source, or type it into the browser yourself – and Chrome reports it to Google. Not signed in? They have your IP address and a comprehensive profile of your computer, which is the same thing as being signed, in from an intelligence collection standpoint, if you ever signed in from that workstation.

    Of course you are spot-on that efforts to get users so formally log in are efforts to push even more advert – er, I mean, “added value” to the user. Getting users to sign in also saves Google’s back end substantial overhead: If the user voluntarily tags him or herself with a unique identifier, Google’s servers don’t have to do a database search to match the IP & computer profile against tracked users.

    Advertising is not the only thing Google wants to target as accurately as possible. They also want their users in the smallest box possible when it comes to search results: We have all heard of “search bubbling” where users are fed results consistent with their known previous web surfing behavior. The reason for this is again down to advertising, a user who only visits sites that are highly relevant to his or her established interests is more likely to find the ads on those pages relevant to their purchasing decisions. But the cost to the user is substantial: We should not forget or discount the destructive impact of putting blinders on Internert users, insulating them against information that might contradict their opinions or enable them to discover “new” things. For this reason, Duck Duck Go and IX Quick are the “new Google” for well informed users.

    But as for Chrome, I can think of only two excuses to allow it on a home or business computer: To test web page layouts, and for use on those rare occsions (I have not seen one yet) when Chrome’s version of HTML5 is required to access useful content somewhere.

    Everybody who knows how to make websites, knows how to support Google searching users and does so. Google definitely has its uses. But Google belongs on a short leash, and Chrome lets Google all the way off the chain.

    avatar skip says:

    Why can’t Google+ be more like Facebook. Then I’d use it for sure.

    avatar Gopinathan says:

    So let us give all our personal data to Facebook which is pure and without evil.

    Google, Love em, hate em. Way too much invasion. “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”

    avatar Felicia says:

    I agree with many of the comments above. Coming from a ‘mail’ point of view, I have consolidated my emails into Gmail but only because I dislike Microsoft Outlook. It’s clunky, but then Google+ is not exactly user-friendly either. Yes, unfortunately they are the monopoly but who else is there that offers the mail services that offer great functionality?

    avatar Dustin says:

    If you ask me Google is way ahead of a lot of people; they’ve practically out grown many out there! Why do you need so much privacy — what are you doing online? I like the ads and they really are that ‘good’. Google seems to know exactly what I want and at the right times.

    If you’re going to use Google (if you don’t like them don’t use them!) then you should have to go by their rules to make Google search better. I don’t see why so many people complain. They have given a ton away for free in terms of search and many other things and they have to make money somehow.

    They’ve only made lives better and what else are they going to do with the extra money they make? It’s no surprise that they were rated the #1 employer years in a row.

    avatar Sherra says:

    Great articles. I’ve change to Chrome a couple years ago and never look back.

    r4 kaart kopen…

    Does Joomla have a Component that help to create a forum like Yahoo Answers?….

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