Is Google’s Pay to Advertise Business Model Aging Poorly?

Back in the golden age of Google, people loved the bright and shiny user interface and faster speeds offered by the search engine.

However, new revelations into how the tech giant trucks in consumer information have turned many people off to Google — and other engines that make their money by selling and placing ads based on consumer behavior.

With a new era of digitally enlightened consumers, will ad revenue be enough to keep companies like Google alive? Or are we on the cusp of watching these champions of industry go the way of Webcrawler and Ask Jeeves?

Let’s get you up to speed…

Just a quick recap:

Google (and similar search engines) collect data using tracking devices called “cookies.” These cookies create a digital profile that can tell big tech everything from your location to the most recent brand of kombucha you’re in to.

In fact, the amount of info that can be collected is staggering. Almost every search and click you complete can be tracked and used to predict your needs, wants, and purchasing trends.

From here, companies like Facebook and Google can charge other businesses money to advertise to you based on your latest info. So those intuitive ads you see while searching for something related or even scrolling through your social feed aren’t a coincidence. They’re carefully planned and placed to appeal to you based on your online activities and personal demographics.

In short, you are the product.

Consumers have caught on to targeting, and studies show that most don’t like it.

It’s an exciting time for digital privacy and consumer trust. Why? Because people like you are becoming aware of just how much of your information is being stored and sold to companies who want to target you for everything from search ads to spammy email campaigns.

Not only is this an issue, but security isn’t exactly consistent across all of these entities who now possess your data. In fact, hacking has become increasingly common, costing consumers and companies billions every year.

As a result, a 2019 Pew Research survey shows that of 79% of adults were somewhat concerned with the way in which companies could/would use their data; while the vast majority of this group also said that they didn’t wholly understand how their data could be collected and used.

These numbers have only increased with the onset of COVID-19 and additional government liberties with consumer data.

And now tech giants like Apple and Google have vowed to limit third party cookies and expand privacy protections, in one way or another.

As wonderful as this sounds, most of us are still waiting for the other shoe to drop — and it has by way of loopholes, pay-for-protection options, and the continued monetization of your online data.

Digital privacy should be a basic right (just as it is in real-life), and we know that companies simply aren’t doing enough to change the landscape and to earn consumer trust.

If they can’t trade in data, how will companies like Google stay afloat?

Ad space will always be at a premium on major search and social networks. However, the business of targeting is becoming antiquated as people learn how to better reduce their digital footprint and protect themselves from unwanted online attention.

Remember pop-ups when they were really bad? The computer-crashing tirade of bad ads designed to attack people and force them to pressure click? As people became more and more averse to these, they largely went away — or tech was designed to prevent them.

We predict that we’ll see a similar shift in ad targeting, forcing a business model shift in many big tech companies that previously relied on these tactics for the majority of their revenue.

Only time will tell — but we’ll be keeping our eye on the situation and our readers up to date!

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