Google Begins Auto-Deleting Location Histories
Do you ever feel like everything you do is being tracked and recorded without your knowledge? It's definitely a concern for some users, especially since most people have their phones on them at all times. Those phones can track location data and find out exactly where you've been, and when. Many Google users likely don't even realize that location data is being tracked. While some users do not care how much data is made known, others feel like it is an invasion of privacy to have that data stored. To address this, Google has started deleting some information automatically. Included in this move is the location data noted above.
This is not the first step in the process. Google already made it possible to choose either a three-month or 18-month window and have data deleted after that point. This was just an option for users, however, and they had to select it on their own. Inevitably, many did not. Some may have chosen not to on purpose, but it is possible that others just did not realize that they had the option at all.
This new update sets the limit at 18 months and makes the process automatic. It will apply to those who use their location settings for the first time or those who create new accounts. Users who already have accounts and who have theoretically set up the options the way they want will get to keep those options. Google is planning to email these users to remind them about the settings, though, in case they forgot or never knew. The company is also planning to make it easier to find and use those settings.
Google Is Not Alone
Of course, Google is not the only company tracking this type of data, nor are they alone in changing the way they do it. YouTube will also reportedly roll out the same type of update. Their auto-delete option will not kick in until 36 months, though. This will apply to new users, as with Google, and will be the default setting. Existing users will have to change their settings if they would like.
What Does This Mean for Ads?
The big question here is how this will impact ads, which are the reason that companies track this type of data. They want to show people relevant ads. Knowing where they go and what they do helps to develop this strategy. It's why many people mention how uncanny it is that ads quickly reflect things they were just talking or thinking about. The reality is that the constant storage of personal information makes it easier to predict what ads someone needs. Information may tell companies if the person is a homeowner, a student, a parent, a person who often goes out to eat and much more.
For their part, Google thinks that the ad experience will not change, as they were previously storing up excessive data that they didn't actually need for this process. As CEO Sundar Pichai recently put it: "We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it's useful and helpful..." He noted that the information can help people find videos to watch, places to go and much more, but it seems that he believes the 18-month-old data isn't relevant anyway and so it can be deleted without hindering these algorithms or suggestions.
A Changing World
This is just one example of how quickly information sharing can change, and that impacts ads, online interactions and much more. Two decades ago, this type of location data was unheard of, then it became incredibly common, and now Google and other major companies are phasing some of it out. When considering how you interact with your target audience, you need to stay on top of these changes, and we can help at Content Customs. Call us today to find out all that we can do for you.