You’re getting googled

On this occasion I’m not talking about Googling your website or getting found online.

I’m talking about YOU!

We’re asked about this a lot, so let’s see if we can clear a few things up for you.

Ever wondered how those pesky ads show up? You know the ones. The ad’s that knew you wanted a holiday, home loan or a flea treatment for your pet before you did. Well-read on and I will explain. Or perhaps I should say, don’t read on if you don’t want to know the answer, hint – some of you won’t.

The answer is reasonably easy to explain

And it’s also the reason online advertising – in particular Facebook Ads and Google Ads are so effective at putting your product in front of the right people at the right time.

You see, you have a digital signature. Not the type that you sign documents with using your Apple Pencil, but the kind that associates a number to you and your profile so that companies like Google and Facebook can trade your data. Yes, you read correctly, they trade your data.

But Andy, I use incognito mode AND delete my browser history. Also, my Facebook privacy settings are super tight.

Sorry champ, but today, that don’t mean shit.

The thing is, its real easy to chop your name off, and then call it “meta data”.

If I have lost you here, think of your bank statement. With your name and address cut off the top. In the eyes of some institutions, that would then make that data “meta data” and would mean large companies could sell it to the highest bidder. As technically it’s no longer in your name and no longer “yours”.

Yes that’s right, credit card companies as an example take all of your transactions and remove your name from them and sell them to the highest bidder. Shocked? You probably should be because they leave your digital signature attached so that it can be associated to you.

Well not you. But digital you. But from a Digital Advertising Perspective its still you.

You probably didn’t know that this even goes on and why would you.

FYI there’s explanation of meta data here. 

Here’s another little nugget for you.

Ever wonder why Google gave Gmail away for free? A product/service that had often been sold up until that point. Well if you have a Gmail account, all of your emails are available to Google right? Yip, stop and think for a second about the information that comes and goes from your inbox. ALL of that is available to Google. Even worse, if you have sent and email to a Gmail account you have just had the info in that email scanned as well. Hopefully you’re saying “what this cant be true?!” Well sorry but here’s the article on CNN Business.

Not great reading.

Now, Google did state that they had stopped using email data for Online Advertising, in the process admitting that they had been doing it to begin with. Do we really believe that they just turned it off?

I don’t. Not from a company that once had the line “Don’t Be Evil” in their code of conduct. Yes, “once had” – it’s gone now. As if they knew they needed to remind themselves.

One for the road

Your mates at Uber send your location data to Google at the end of each ride. Didn’t know that? Why would they do that? Surely it’s not so that Google can target their advertising based around a digital profile based on your locations visited and food delivery transactions? Surely it’s not because Google have a hole in their data when someone doesn’t use Google Maps?

Check the article out here from Norton (the anti virus people – not the motorcycle) for clarity on this. 

So now they know what you eat, where you go and what you spend your money on. Oh, and everything in your emails….

With this information, let your mind wander to the hyper targeted world of digital advertising. Now are you starting to see how this works?

As a Digital Advertising provider I have access to what you like to do, what you like to eat when you last went on holiday/travelled etc. This means I can target you with accuracy that has never been available before. I don’t know it’s you personally, but I can target your profile.

See things were so bad at the beginning of this year, Apple banned one of Facebook’s apps from their store. You can see the story here on re-code.

This wasn’t the first time either. The Wall Street Journal talks about a similar incident in August last year

The Verge also do a great job of articulating the incidents here. 

For me it was pretty gross. In summary Google and Facebook both paid folks $20 to share their data. The articles summarize it best but to me it feels like they targeted people who needed the money.


This after they admitted police were able to access data on folks attending “black lives matter” rallies in the US.

What did they do with that data? Ah, lets just say they were not sending flowers….

You can find the stories on what happened yourself.

So, FYI. My iPhone is better than your Google spy phone….

It seems a little ironic now that Huawei cop as much flack as they do given Google and Facebook have been at it for years.

I can go on about this for days. But in summary consider this. I haven’t touched on YouTube, Twitter, The US Election, Brexit, Cambridge Analytica or Amazon.

What I am getting at here is that if you are a business owner, now is the time to target your audiences. While you still can.

In my opinion the whole thing is super squirrely, but super effective when used well.

For me, outside the moral issues it presents a question to business owners.

Do you want to sell your product or BE the product.

Talk to don about selling your product effectively using digital advertising today. You may as well profit from the sharing of your data, right?