Google’s plan to buy DoubleClick has put many privacy advocate groups up in arms. One company knowing what you’re searching, and then following you throughout the web just feels creepy. DoubleClick counters the argument by saying that their marketing clients are the ones that retain web surfing information, not DoubleClick itself. Other Forrester Analysts such as Charlene Li and Shar VanBoskirk have also blogged about this deal. I think they make some great points about how this deal works for Google, keeping DoubleClick away from Microsoft and building their own business with a bang.
I’d disagree that this is a privacy issue that will just blow over. I think the advocacy groups are digging in for a fight, and if I were Google, I’d be concerned about how many reputational capital I’m spending with this deal. Currently, Google is a well trusted brand (#10 of all companies according to recent a Ponemon survey) but I’d have to guess that DoubleClick is very far down on that list with a poor reputation. Will Google’s fairy dust spread to DoubleClick and improve their reputation? Or is it more likely DoubleClick will drag Google into the mud with it? While they may put in reasonable privacy protections, chief privacy officers tell me that perception is half of their job. And I think in this case, Google has failed to properly foresee and respond to privacy concerns.