Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chrome Browser: Google's Secret Weapon for Multi-Device Ad Targeting

Last week I saw a TV commercial from Google promoting its Chrome browser. In particular, it was promoting its use on desktops, tablets, and mobile with the final call to action to download it from the Google Play or iTunes appstores. While it was touting the consumer benefits of remembering your web surfing preferences and passwords across computers and devices, it didn't mention the benefit for Google's ad business and online marketers.
Google Chrome TV ad
A few years ago when Android came out, I asked a Google rep if Google could connect a user's Android online activity with the same user's online activity from their desktop Google account. Not far fetched since one has to create or login to a Google or Gmail account to activate a new Android phone. As an online marketer, I loved the idea of building a richer profile of a user's online activity from his desktop and mobile. 

At the time, Google was adamant about not doing that due to privacy concerns. A lot has changed since then as the world has become more social, smartphones have proliferated, and more people are going online from their mobile devices instead of desktops. Today, Google is very close to connecting all the dots.

Let's see what happens if you were to use and login to the Chrome browser on all your devices. Imagine searching for auto insurance on your mobile device on the way to work. You're just checking out a few companies to consider and not planning to get an online quote by pecking through multiple screens of detailed info on your phone. Then while at work on your company's laptop as you surf the web in Chrome, Google serves up ads for auto insurance. You click on an ad and start getting an online quote. But have second thoughts and decide to abandon the site. A few days later, as you surf from your iPad in the evening, using your Chrome browser, you see an ad (known as a remarketing ad) that invites you to return to the site you previously visited at work to complete your online quote. Amazing how Google knew you were in the market for auto insurance despite being on different devices, eh?

This kind of targeting may seem creepy to consumers but it is also digital advertising's holy grail! And it is not too far from reality. Google has already been integrating Google+ across its applications to tie disparate user profiles together. Chrome, which already has about 26% browser share on desktops in the US, is another piece of the puzzle for Google. A puzzle we digital marketers are willing to pay a premium for the solution.


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