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Google Feed is a Tempting Feast for Marketers

Google has always dominated search, but it has not done so well with social as evidenced by the perceived failure of Google+. So, capitalizing on its strengths, it set up a feed for users that uploads items of interest based on their own signals, rather than on what their friends shared or Twitter connections posted online.

Back in December, Google introduced an app update that promised “load your life’s interests and updates” with just “a single tap” that can bring up “useful cards.”  Seven months later, Google proclaimed “Feed Your Need to Know,” announcing that — thanks to machine learning advances — the algorithms that direct the feed can “better anticipate” the type of content that an individual would want to see.

Google promises a personalized experience that improves  with use. In addition to giving users updates on the topics they choose to follow, it will take cues from a user’s viewed videos on YouTube, their search history, and their location: “Now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world.”

In other words, it is bringing together your own signaled interests with real-time trends that are linked to your location. That sounds like a potential big win for marketers.

The same data mining that is used to form a comprehensive profile of Google users could easily be directed to create a consumer profile. As much of the information that Google draws on in customizing a person’s feed would not constitute what it calls “sensitive personal information,” its privacy policy, would allow it to share information (at least in the US; the EU tends to be much more stringent on privacy rights).

What makes this so powerful for marketing is that it brings together the same kind of data connections Amazon and Netflix use so effectively to offer customers recommendations, along with deeper knowledge about them that comes from seeing which types of news stories and outlets they favor as well as their actual location identification. With all that information about an individual, marketing can become much more personalized and targeted.

Someone who sets their Feed to supply news on renewable energy, fashion, and organic options would likely be receptive to marketing that shows a new line of organic goods in their local supermarket, for example, or clothes from the Zara Just line.  Someone with a flight booked could be shown attractions in the destination city, ads for transportation options there, and travel accessories. People who have added articles on parenting young children to their Feeds may get directed to children’s programming, toys, college funds, and preschools in their area.

Of course, Google doesn’t say that it’s rolling out the Feed as a tool for marketers, but then again, Facebook didn’t admit that its social network was geared toward ads either. I’m sure we’ll be seeing marketers make use of this feature in the near future.

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