Wednesday, February 28, 2007

what does Google know about me

A friend recently had her Google account access blocked for a day and a half. And watching her have withdrawal symptoms made me realize how heavily dependant I am too on Google for everything web.

Most of the internet services that I use regularly require a Google sign-on. Other services are used but definitely not at a multiple-times-a-day frequency.

Here’s an estimate of what Google might know about me.

Let’s start with people first – email, chat and a social network. This pretty much covers almost all the online interaction I have with people. Where the people are, strength of connections, context of each connection isn’t very hard to figure out. What Google knows about my friends, it can try and infer about me.

The internet is like a broad tree with depth of one and the root is Google Search. All content is accessed directly through the root. Search history coupled with me being signed in to some Google service or the other most of the time can easily provide a macro as well as micro view of what I’m doing and where my interests lie.

Next, Google Analytics. Used on various websites, it tracks clicks and other information (browser, country/city, ISP etc) about the user for that website. This data is private to the website owner but Google has the data for all the websites that use Google Analytics. And I’m mostly signed in to some Google service. So it becomes even easier for Google to narrow down my interests.

I use the internet a lot - most of my activities have an online element. I would have checked out movies on IMDB (one service I use very often that is not Google!) before renting them or hunted around for reviews of a tennis racquet I wanted to buy.
All this data and some smart deductive reasoning ought to make it very easy to predict what I’m going to do next.

As I think about it, what would I do with so much information?
Set up the world's biggest marketplace. Where anyone can sell anything. And anyone can buy anything. That's the best place to leverage the data.

And I think that is exactly where Google is headed with its advertising platform.

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