Are You Getting Scroogled?

Beginning March 1st, Google will be implementing a new privacy policy which will affect all of its products/services offered in order to gain a better perspective of their consumers and give them a more personalized experience. With the new privacy policy, Google will be able to gain more access to personal information by pulling material from all Google-operated services/products, such as E-mail, and using that information to create personalized advertisements to the user. This idea is similar to the one discussed in our earlier blog post titled “Not to Burst Your Bubble….”. With a better understanding of their users, Google will better be able to sell advertising, which in fact, is a main source of revenue for the company. Also, advertisers will be willing to spend more money with Google, if Google is bringing them more customers.

This privacy policy change has certainly upset a number of people, but it might be safe to say none like Microsoft, a competitor of Google’s. Within recent weeks, Microsoft has released a number of advertisements via print and YouTube blatantly attacking Google and its new privacy policy. With the headline, “Have you Been Scroogled?”, and the advertisements tearing the privacy policy to shreds, it’s hard for one to not compare these advertising campaigns to those of the presidential elections.  It is unclear what the purpose of the advertisement is until the very last couple of seconds in which the Microsoft Outlook logo is revealed. There is even a website dedicated to the campaign. Upon visiting, the user is given the option to sign a petition against Google and the option to try Microsoft Outlook. The irony behind this whole situation is prevalent in several ways. First, Microsoft is placing these anti-Google advertisements on YouTube. Second, when searching for “Microsoft anti-Google ads” through the Google search engine, the websites provided where splattered with banner/marginal ads for Microsoft. When performing this same search through Bing (a search engine owned by Microsoft), the websites provided had shown ads sponsored by Google. This pattern resembles the concept of a “strange loop” within the Coordinated Management of Meaning theory. According to Littlejohn (1999, in Theories of Human Communication), these occur when “the rules of interpretation change from one point in the loop to another, causing a paradox, or strange loop, in which each contexts disconfirms the other”.

As of now, a little less than 10,000 people have signed the petition, which is only a small fraction of the G-mail users, and the YouTube advertisement have received far more “dislikes” than “likes”. Maybe this strategy isn’t as successful as Microsoft had hoped it would be. With Google being the most popular search engine, it is going to take more than that to persuade its users to up and switch to Microsoft. What does this say about Microsoft as a company? Will this be the new advertising technique of the future? Will we no longer see companies like Coke and Pepsi beating around the bush but rather taking deliberate stabs at one another? Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see where the rest of Microsoft’s campaigning takes us.

Callie Fenlon

5 thoughts on “Are You Getting Scroogled?

  1. I find it very disturbing how personal information is so easily being used aganist me. However, the most perplexing thing is the reaction of Microsoft Outlook. Taking such a big stab at Google is a bold move. Google is the most popular search engine so it will take a lot to bring it down. Only time will tell if Microsoft Outlook’s approach worked.

    Anna Zima

  2. Having not heard anything about Google implementing a new privacy policy, I found this entry very interesting. Although Google will be pulling more information from users, it isn’t like they are going to be using the information in a bad way against users. Advertising is something that is inevitable on the internet these days, and I think this might actually be a good thing. As someone who normally ignores the ads I see on while browsing the internet, I actually find it nice when it is something relevant to my interests. Facebook has been gathering information from what users are interested in to decide which ads to display to that user for some time now, and I think it actually works better for the companies doing the advertising. If it is a company relevant to a user’s interests, they will most likely click on it to explore more. Companies that don’t benefit from this type of advertising can take their business elsewhere instead of wasting money on a lost cause. As far as Microsoft’s attacks go, I think it is a desperate attempt to keep their loyal users. I think it is a very unprofessional way to discredit the competition. Microsoft should be promoting the positives of their products/services. In my personal opinion, I think that if a company can’t win over customers or users without resorting to blatantly attacking the competition, they aren’t doing a very good job themselves. I do find it ironic that the ads are on the competition’s websites, but maybe they allow it because they know they need each other to stay relevant. There is a connection between the two because they each have to keep improving because consumers like new things. If there were only one search engine, things may not work how they are supposed to and it wouldn’t be as effective. Each company needs the other to push them to keep improving. I really enjoyed this entry, and I really like how it was compared to ads during political campaigns. With more dislikes than likes, and less signatures than they probably hoped for, I don’t see this advertising attack campaign working, and I really don’t see it influencing future ads. I, personally, find attack ads to be annoying and irrelevant, and I always want to avoid whatever they’re selling. I guess only time will tell how the rest of the population feels.

  3. I’m honestly surprised that is has taken this long for two companies to directly at one another rather than just beating around the bush with small pokes within their own advertising. Your allude to political campaigns hit the nail right on the head. This is the culture we live in today where to be successful you have to make your message clear and set yourself apart from the competitor. I like what Microsoft has done here, whether or not it turns out to be successful.

  4. It does not surprise me that Google is activating a new Privacy setting, and it should not be looked at as a negative thing. They already have privacy settings, this is just seen as an “update.” As for Microsoft taking stabs at Google, that is probably the worst thing they could have done. Google is the most popular and successful search engine ever on the internet, and the fact that Microsoft can simply think that they can turn heads by created a petition and ads that try to knock Google; they are sadly mistaken.

  5. This new approach to advertising, as implemented by Google, appears to be a form of direct marketing. While this approach is extremely effective it can be argued that some of these techniques are invasive to privacy. I find it ironic that a company such as Microsoft would have such a strong backlash against this policy; leading me to question Microsoft’s motives for doing so. Furthermore I think that Microsoft’s attempt to petition against Google is a bit immature and will reflect poorly on the company’s image.

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