Google to Share Visitors' Aggregated Search History With Publishers

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Google is testing a new offering that can provide publishers with new albeit aggregated data about visitors to their websites, the company said Tuesday at a Chicago event it called its first Partner Leadership Summit.

Information available through the "Insight Engine Project" will include age, gender, relevant search history, shopping history and what visitors seem in the market to buy, according to Google.

Although publishers enjoy enviable access to data on consumers that they collect directly with each visit, often capturing even more if a visitor registers and voluntarily offers up personal details in the process, Google is arguing that it can provide additional, particularly helpful data that will let publishers serve more relevant ads through Google's programmatic exchange

"It is virtually impossible to use all the data that publishers capture," Jonathan Bellack, director of product management at Google, said from the stage during an address to publishers and reporters. "That is the heart of the Insight Engine Project wants to achieve."

Google plans a pair of limited tests in coming months and hopes to make the product broadly available in 2018.

The offering is part of a much larger push by Google to improve its relationship with publishers, exemplified by the event itself on Tuesday as well as the flood of pitches Google rained down on attendees. The company is fighting over publishers against Facebook and Apple, both of which would rather see apps continue to rise in importance. Google thrives in the open web.

Parade of promises
Google said it will also use machine learning to forecast data about what a publisher's rivals are doing, how fast their ads are loading and what their viewability metrics are. The company says it will also provide publishers with "automatic growth detection," which will predict when a website might see an uptick in revenue from advertisers, as well as reminders for seasonal adjustments for ad inventory.

The company said it will connect DoubleClick with Google's BigQuery, which provides analytics, and its Data studio which offers insights to publishers.

Meanwhile, Google added that it will eventually provide publishers with subscription support that will allow readers to pay a publisher for a subscription by making a single click "instead of making 20." The company has previously floated the notiong of offering a single sign-in to properties such as The New York Times and the Washington Post without having to log in over and over.

Google says it is working with publishers across the globe to deliver a top-tier subscription delivery system so signing up for paid content is easier. "We are taking a holistic look at how to improve that," Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP of ads and commerce at Google, told publishers. "I would look at this as a committed long-term partnership."

"We need a universal system for subscriptions, but that problem still needs to be cracked," he added. "Subscriptions are not a one-size-fits-all answer. Someone might want multiple subscriptions, others might only want to read 20 articles a month and maybe someone wants a family subscription."

Google is testing a feature that will allow users to pay for individual articles instead of committing to a subscription. Terms haven't been determined but Google says it won't ask for a big cut. "We will cover our costs," Ramaswamy said. "This is not in the context of creating the next big business for Google."

And, as was reported on Monday, publishers can now control how many "free" articles they want to share with readers who arrive via search instead of letting Google dictate such terms.

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