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“We have seen a significant increase in our sales that goes beyond the first click. This is an increase that we can tie back to the search campaigns run by our partners at Nina Hale, Inc.” — John Schroeder, Retail Business Intelligence Manager, Room & Board

Google Now: Personal Assistant or Digital Stalker?

I recently purchased the hotly anticipated Google Nexus 7 tablet, with Google NowIn case you don’t know what Google Now is yet, it is either your best friend and personal assistant or worst enemy creepy digital stalker.  Google Now is integrated with all services that are connected to your Google Account – calendar, search, Gmail, Google+, Google Finance, etc. This service literally tracks your every move and serves you relevant reminders and updates when you need them. Here are several examples:

  • I had an appointment to bring my car into the dealership the other day. I was sitting on my couch playing with my tablet when all of a sudden a Google Now screen popped up telling me that I had to leave my house in 5 minutes to beat traffic to my appointment. 
  • I have a recurring staff meeting on my work calendar for every Tuesday morning, and every morning, my tablet reminds me that to make the meeting in time I need to catch the 7:56 bus that leaves the bus stop right across the street from my house.
  • The other day, I got a news update through Google Now about one of the stocks that I had put on my Google Finance watch list.
  • One last one – the other day I was searching for a product online, on my phone, I navigated over to Home Depot site.  When I got home, I turned on my tablet, and a Google Now notification popped up, telling me where the closest Home Depot store was that had my product in stock.

These are all very convenient scenarios, and on the one hand, I was very happy to get the reminders of when to leave, and tips on where to go. However, It also made me think about how creepy it is that Google knows more about me than some of my closest friends and family – maybe even more than I do.  Don’t get me wrong, as a search marketer, I am well aware of the information that is collected about me by Google and virtually every other online entity, but now Google is just throwing it all right in your face with Google Now. It’s been over a month since I have had my Google tablet, and I am still using Google Now – I am willingly giving Google all my information for the sake of convenience, and I am sure I am not the only one.

Also, as a search marketer, I have to wonder if Google Now will at some point in the not-so-distant future become the most targeted advertising channel out there.  Think about it, Google knows exactly what you are doing, when you are doing it, and where. It also knows who your social connections are, and what you searched for, etc. One top of all that, Google is training us to accept this relatively intrusive service.  Imagine the first scenario that I described, what if along with my oil change appointment reminder I received a discount coupon for a break inspection, or some other complimentary service. Or take my last scenario – I was looking for a hand cart by the way – what if along with directions to the nearest Home Depot store with that product, I received a discount coupon for all moving supplies (boxes, tape, etc.).  Or, from the point of the advertiser, if I was Lowes, would I be able to target people right as they were ready to go to Home Depot for a purchase?

I can provide many more hypothetical scenarios, but this really brings the Minority Report type future, with relevant and targeted ads bombarding you with every step that much closer to reality.

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by +Mike Grinberg

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