Google Stockpiles Data Ammo Through Privacy Merge, Guns To Win Relevancy War

Data is ammunition in the war for delivering the most relevant information. And Larry Page, the prototypical war-time CEO, has just told everyone to empty their ammo packs so Google can build one big bomb with the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” and “Apple” chalked on the side.

The privacy policy change announced today rolls more than 70 separate policies into a single one,  and will let the company combine any piece of data it has about you into a single profile. The point is, in the company’s own words, to help it tailor any of its service to who you are, what you do — and to any friends you have.

Think of any random thing you or anyone you’re somehow connected to has done on any Google service ever. Now, assume any of that data could play a part in tailoring search results and ads or anything else to you.

Before the launch of Google+ for search last week, this would have been a seminal moment in Google’s history. Lots of people prefer to use Google products separately from each other, and don’t want everything getting mixed up. After the launch, it’s more like a logical follow-up — of course those videos your friends watched on YouTube are going to shape your search results, just like anything else that Google has access to.

What we are looking at is how Google is trying to make its social relevancy suck less — a big question that a lot of us have. Google’s data stockpile, once the new privacy policy is pushed through, will be constantly fed by the more than 70 services it currently offers.

It’s like an in-house rival to Facebook’s developer platform, through which Facebook can gain valuable new insight into what users care about through how they use apps and web sites. It’s hard to think of any other company with so many web services that have so many users (maybe Yahoo? What if it were do something this ambitious under the new CEO, Scott Thompson — yeah, I twitched writing that sentence).

Will the data stockpile actually be that good? Can its social features, however poorly done, provide enough value to users that the shortage of data from competitors like Facebook and Twitter isn’t missed?

Or is it more like an Alamo, where Google counts its bullets and discovers it just doesn’t have many good ones left. The test, beyond the expected privacy complaints, will now be how users actually feel about the results.

At this point it’s hard to think of anything as drastic left for the company to do. Assuming tons of users don’t leave in protest, and assuming there aren’t life-threatening legal issues, get ready to sit back and watch Google fight a war of iterative feature development with Facebook, using absolutely every weapon available.

[Image via the Frugal Cafe.]