Google Limits Referrer Data: What Marketers Must Know

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kdawson
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Re: Some hard data
kdawson   10/24/2011 11:07:04 AM
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I would say the way to read it is: only 1 or 2 percent of data was lost between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20, as Google's rollout was just getting underway. It's not hard to believe that SSL search had only reached 1/5 or 1/10 of Google users worldwide in that early period.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: Some hard data
Mitch Wagner   10/24/2011 11:04:03 AM
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Keith - Interesting. Am I reading that right? Referrer data will only be lost for 1% of searches due to the Google changes -- 2% in the case of some highly technical searches?

 

kdawson
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Some hard data
kdawson   10/24/2011 10:24:47 AM
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Vertical Measures looked over 3 days of their Google Analytics data for 11 of their clients in a number of industries. For most of them, the amount of traffic from logged-in Google users — i.e. the traffic for which search referrer was not provided — amounted to around 1 percent. For more tech-oriented sites it was double that.

Caveats apply of course: Google is still in the process of rolling out encrypted search.

kdawson
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Re: The cynical view
kdawson   10/24/2011 10:18:47 AM
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How do you know they use cheap disks?

Google has published a fair amount of detail about how they operate their data centers. A couple of years back a paper out of Google provided the best and deepest data then available about the reliability of off-the-shelf disks. And yes, they do buy cheap. As long as their processes assume some failure rate and deal with it efficiently, they save money.

cmophil
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Re: The cynical view
cmophil   10/20/2011 7:22:38 PM
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How do you know they use cheap disks?

Mitch Wagner
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Where's the harm?
Mitch Wagner   10/20/2011 6:58:00 PM
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This is an example of privacy protection where it's unclear what, precisely, the consumer is being protected from.

What's the downside to the consumer of letting a webmaster know what search term was used by the consumer to arrive at the site?

I can think of benefits to the consumer: If a consumer arrives at a retail website becuse he searched on "washing machines," it helps that person to show them washing-machine-related content. 

It's also a lesson to marketers that Google cannot be relied on -- nor can anyone else in the absence of a contractual relationship. You used to hear stories about retailers who suffered catastrophically when Google changed its algorithm; these were people who had won the lottery and therefore considered lottery tickets as a sound investment.

 


kdawson
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Re: The cynical view
kdawson   10/20/2011 1:36:15 PM
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Karl, that is one of the most perceptive posts about Google I've read in a while. "Failing to build an organization that can deal with the possibility that there could be a problem" — I will probably steal that.

KarlHakkarainen
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Re: The cynical view
KarlHakkarainen   10/20/2011 1:27:45 PM
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Google has been tone-deaf on some of these privacy/personal information issues. Buzz was the worst example of this. Business or personal accounts have been suspended without a clear explanation of the infractions or even a clear path to resolution.

It's rare that Google does bad things consciously. The troubles come from the hubris of being very smart: not ony failing to recognize that there is a problem, but failing to build an organization that can deal with the possibility that there _could_ be a problem.

Their data storage design is predicated on handling an expected number of failures for their cheap disks. It seems as though they haven't built a similar reslience in dealing with people.

kdawson
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Re: The cynical view
kdawson   10/20/2011 11:20:51 AM
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Clearly they are trying to find a balance and not aggrevate their advertisers too much. (Aggrevating the SEO community they don't seem to mind; some might even assume they enjoy it.) But it's hard to believe that it didn't occur to anyone at Google that the separate treatment for ad clicks would be read as self-serving.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: The cynical view
Mitch Wagner   10/20/2011 11:05:37 AM
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This does seem to be a cynical move by Google. If this referrer data is private data that should be protected, then it should be protected in ads as well. Google is saying here, "We won't sell out our users' privacy -- unless the price is right."

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