How Much Does Free Really Cost?
There was an announcement this week from Google that the company plans to launch a new ad tool, called Ad Planner, designed to help agencies identify sites where their target audience might be active. This new, free service, if I understand it correctly, uses audience measurement data and combines that data with search engine information, to determine with extreme exactitude what sites attract the particulars of any unique demographic audience. It then creates a resource for ad agencies to determine where to precisely place ads.
This seems to me to be a two-edged sword. It is conducive for advertisers, publishers and webmasters to have as much data on their readership as is possible. But at what point is that pool of rich data just too intrusive and delving into our private lives, while we are numbly uninformed at the keyboard? At what point will the power to corrupt be so overwhelming a temptation by the “Google god” of personal information storage that it gets used against us?
This could be simple paranoia, a relic attitude from the last century when only I and my conscience knew where I was and what I was doing. Now it seems our very thoughts (Google searches) are on open display and for sale to the highest bidder. Does this mean that “big brother” is actually watching? The clear answer is yes. But it turns out that there are two big brothers: one is the government (phone tapping) and the other is the capitalist system. I’m not sure which one scares me more.