Microsoft Attacks Google for Privacy Policy Change in New Print Ads

Campaign in Times, WSJ Claims Competitor Is Putting Its Own Interests Above Users

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Microsoft smells blood in the water and is seizing an opportunity to cast Google's plan to consolidate its privacy policies in a sinister light through a print campaign it turned around quickly this week. Google responded with a blog post responding to what it calls the "myths" among Microsoft's claims.

The campaign, "Putting People First," ran in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times today, and will continue tomorrow and Friday, according to Marketing Land.

The ad accuses Google of being disingenuous in its claims that the changes are largely for simplicity and consistency's sake. Instead, it asserts that Google is putting its own interests above those of users and that its real aim is to track what users do across its portfolio of products and lure advertisers with better data.

Here's the full text:

Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to some of their most popular products. Those changes, cloaked in language like "transparency," "simplicity" and "consistency," are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.

But, the way they're doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information. Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.

To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product. But, that effort needs to be balanced with continuing to meet the needs and interests of users. Every business finds its own balance and attracts users who share those priorities. Google's new changes have upset that balance, with users' priorities being de-prioritized. That's why people are concerned and looking for alternatives.

It then urges readers to try Microsoft products like Hotmail, Bing and Internet Explorer if Google's attitude toward privacy rubs them the wrong way.

Clearly Google's competitors see a chink in the armor and see an opportunity to make privacy a point of differentiation in the marketplace. Google was also subjected to a public scolding by Twitter last month after it unveiled its "Search Plus Your World" update, which integrated more social signals -- mostly from within Google -- into search for signed-in users. Twitter's criticism was based on the notion that the change promotes Google content at the expense of the rest of the social web.

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