Google & Privacy – Adwords Wiggles into Your Private Life

The next time you read emails in your Gmail account, take a look at the advertisements on the side bar.  Do they have anything to do with what you are talking about in your email?  Chance are, they do.

Gmail continues to be a free service because they allow advertisements to show while you read your email.  For Paid Search Marketers, Gmail is yet another outlet for a client’s message to be delivered.  Think of your email content as phrases that are automatically typed into the search query box on the Google home page.   Google states, “In Gmail, users will see text ads and links to related pages that are relevant to the content of their messages. The links to related pages are similar to Google search results, and are culled from Google’s extensive index of web pages… No email content or other personally identifiable information is ever shared with advertisers.”

Does this make you feel better? Well, it should as a Gmail user.  But on the flip side, as a PPC Manager, it might actually lead to unwanted impressions, little click through and even less conversions.  While on the surface, infiltrating Gmail to get exact targeting sounds great!  Your ads are being served to relevant audiences.  But let’s take a look at this example.  This is a forward in my Gmail about Old Bumper Cars.  The original sender is a mortgage lender as identified by his signature, company logo and email address.  Check out the ads on the side bar.

All of the ads served are about mortgage rates, credit scores and car insurance.  Does any of this apply to me?  Not really.  I am not the target market for any of these services.  But because of the content pulled from my email, I was served.  PPC Managers of these accounts would probably not be pleased that they were impressed five times with zero click through and definitely zero conversions from serving me on this email.

There are exceptions to this and sometimes it WILL work.  Let’s say you are talking about a vacation with your family to Orlando and ads are served for activities or discounts on attractions in the area.  These are highly relevant to what you’re planning and may lead to a conversion on their site.  Google makes sure that marketers are aware of the wonders of this tool. “Many people have found that the search-related ads on can be valuable–not merely a necessary evil, but a welcome feature. Similarly, many users have told us that they have found Gmail’s ads and related pages to be helpful, because the information reflects their interests.”

So, do you feel personally a little creeped out by all of this?  Or maybe the bigger question is do you feel creeped out as a PPC Manager that your ads can do this?  Rest assured that there isn’t an actual PERSON reading millions of juicy personal emails at Google in order to serve your client’s ad.  Google uses the same scanning technology for dynamically generating these ads as they do to filter spam and viruses which does not amount to a violation of privacy.

So for now PPC Heroes, this is yet another tool in your arsenal of weapons to serve your clients.  These ads are reported in Google Analytics and will, as Google promises, show that they were served in Gmail and not give any private information.

Let us know if the Gmail route of advertising has been good for your clients or if you have seen any privacy complaints from it!