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When you’re Google, knowledge really is power

I seem to be writing about Google a lot lately because I keep seeing small things that I think will add up to big things. Recently, I discussed Google’s strategy, noting all the ways that Google can learn activity information about Web surfers. I got an e-mail today, as a Google Analytics user, that gives me a reason to share my data.

Dear Google Analytics users,

We are writing to let you know about a change in our service offerings. If you have logged into your account recently, you may have noticed that you can now choose to share your Google Analytics data. By providing data sharing options, we hope to provide you with transparency, control, and new services based on your preferences.

To learn more about data sharing settings, visit our FAQs:

We’re also happy to announce industry benchmarking as the first new feature available to those who opt to share their data. Benchmarking lets you compare your metrics against industry verticals.

To enable this optional new feature, an administrator on your account will need to make the following selections on the Google Analytics data sharing settings page:

1. Log into your account. You’ll see the yellow data sharing settings box on the Analytics Settings page.

2. Click the “More data sharing options” link within the yellow box.

3. Select the second checkbox to specify that you want to share your data “Anonymously with Google products and the benchmarking service”. You can also choose to share your data “With Google products only” to take advantage of advanced Google advertising products and services as they become available.

The industry benchmarking feature is currently in beta. Once you have enabled benchmarking, it may take up to two weeks before the categorized, aggregated and anonymized benchmarking data shows up in your reports.

For more information on the benchmarking service, visit our FAQs:

In addition to the new benchmarking service, opting to share your data will also enable you to take advantage of new advanced Google products and services as they become available. We think these services will offer greater insight and sophistication to users who have opted to share their data. However, if you would prefer not to use these services, simply specify on the settings page that you don’t want to share your data.


The Google Analytics Team

If you follow the link in the letter, you’ll find that there are new enhancements coming to the free Google services, such as Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer. What I am learning, as I read this letter, is that Google is a lot smarter than me.
I’ve speculated in the past that as personalized search takes hold, Google will have a chance to sell search marketers data about where their pages ranked for certain queries, because Google is the only one who will know. I was thinking way too small.
Google’s game is much smarter, because they are asking for something both more valuable and easier to agree to—quite a powerful combination. They want more data, which they “pay for” by providing you with more data that you want. Why do I expect that giving more data will be the price I pay to find out my average personalized search rankings?
My suspicion is that use of the data is more valuable to Google than anything they could get away with charging for it. The additional insight into surfer behavior and the knowledge of which pages on a site are more popular and which conversions seem to be most popular—it’s a treasure trove for personalization, behavioral targeting, and probably other stuff that doesn’t even have a name yet.
And I found myself willing to share my data because it doesn’t cost any money and because I am genuinely curious about what information I am missing. I think many others will, too.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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