AH Tech Talk: Google Is Bridging The User Identity Gap

When you log into Facebook, you establish an identity. Your likes and dislikes, ads you do and don't respond to and the kinds of campaigns that are most effective with you are all logged, as well as which screens you access Facebook from and how long, as well as what you do on those screens and how your time on Facebook for desktop may differ from your time spent on the mobile app. Since you can't use Facebook without logging in, this is the case for every single user. Facebook's entire billion-strong user base is fed extremely targeted ads, leading to higher engagement and much higher ad revenues for Facebook. For all intents and purposes, Facebook knows exactly who you and all of your friends are and uses that information to serve you extremely well-targeted ads.

Google doesn't quite have this advantage. A user who hits Google through an iOS device or a Windows desktop computer has the option to sign in, but it's not mandatory to use most of Google's core services, like Search and Maps. On Android devices and Chromebooks, however, users are prompted to sign in or create a login at the first boot. While it's entirely possible to skip this, most users opt to go through with it so they can use Google's full suite of services. The number of great Google services that you have to be logged into to use, for obvious reasons, includes names like Hangouts, Drive, Gmail and Blogger. Users that aren't signed in can be fed ads based on their location, if the user allows it, and their cookies, which track which websites they've been to and some very basic actions, but that's about it. If you clear your cookies, which most internet users do regularly, your Google identity is gone.

Users that are signed in hand over a large number of details to Google. Apps downloaded from the Play Store, locations frequented, favorite contacts and the types of music and videos a user likes, among tons of other details, are all in Google's hands when you sign in and use their services regularly. This means they can serve you extremely targeted ads, rivaling those served by Facebook. The issue, as mentioned above, is that not all users opt to sign in. As also stated above, almost all users of Google's Android OS, the most popular mobile OS out there, end up signing in.

According to CEO Sundar Pichai, a huge number of new users have been coming in through mobile channels, almost all of which have been signed in. Thus, a huge shift toward mobile is occurring within the company as everybody scrambles to tap into the mobile user and their highly targeted ads. Many of Google's services have user bases over a billion strong, such as Gmail. Naturally, all of Google's services also have a mobile component, which is where a large amount of access is coming in from. Pichai noted that over fifty percent of some products' traffic is from mobile, which means that the better part of that figure is signed in. Guessing roughly, let's say that half a billion users are hitting YouTube daily through mobile. About 85 percent of these will be signed in, or roughly 425 million users. These 425 million signed-in users are being served highly targeted ads that not only result in more engagement but are normally paid higher per view, per click and per full engagement, such as a purchase or sign-up.

Effectively, this means that Google must close the gap by pushing harder for mobile adoption. There is a good number of OEMs, mostly in China where Google is blocked, that do not include Google's services on their devices. Google will have to make up for this with a much harder push against rivals and into markets that are either emerging, like India, saturated with a huge percentage of non-Android products, like the U.S., or have yet to be tapped. like some parts of Africa. Rivals like Apple and even dinosaurs like Blackberry and Windows Phone won't make it terribly easy for Google to clinch a victory, nor will antitrust regulators, but any step they can take against the firm that's poised to give them a beatdown in new media is a good step.

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About the Author
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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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