Microsoft Attacks: Anti-Google Ads Launched

Taking up the sword after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) made controversial changes to its privacy policy last week, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has unleashed a series of newspaper ads that tout the fact it places “people first;” in essence claiming that it isn’t trying to trade off users’ information as Google has outright claimed it will do.  The ads are running in The New York Times (NYSE:NYT), The Wall Street Journal (NASDAQ:NWSA), and USA Today (NYSE:GCI). The company also drafted a related blog post stating their case.

In the ads, Microsoft disputes Google’s claims of “transparency” and “simplicity” in its new, condensed privacy policy by stating that the policy is “making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.”  The ad goes on to emphasize that the information collected makes the reader, as a consumer, more valuable to a given advertiser.  The blog post emphasizes how Google now makes it harder, not easier, for users to maintain a hold on their information. Both the ads and the post then go on to tout Microsoft’s own web based products: the email service Hotmail, search engine Bing, browser Internet Explorer, and online productivity service Office 365.

Microsoft has a position of advantage over Google in that it is primarily a software developer that utilizes the internet to expand its base of customers and to build brand loyalty.  Google, on the other hand, makes its income almost entirely from advertising, and is thus forced into finding ways to maximize the value of each person it advertises to.

As written by Danny Sullivan on Marketing Land, Google opened itself up to this targeted advertising by essentially consolidating its power over people’s information.  While the search provider does offer people the option to restrict some of their information, the fact that the company is now overtly sharing it among all of its divisions is nevertheless troubling to many, many people.  Sullivan makes the comparison to the new privacy policy essentially being like having the U.S. Constitution without having the accompanying Bill of Rights that places a check on its consolidation of power.

Sullivan, however, also makes it a point to emphasize that, when examined, Microsoft’s policies really don’t seem to be all that much better than Google’s current policy, and would also give it leeway to possibly sell and bundle information if it chose to.  Of course, the key difference is that it’s saying it won’t, while Google is saying it will.  A key to Google’s continuing success, according to Sullivan, is that it must now realize that it’s grown too large to be considered a kind of egalitarian company of the people; after this and a number of other controversies over the years, Google must accept that it’s now a big, menacing corporate conglomerate that can no longer depend on the blanket trust of its ever cautious, internet savvy users.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Morris at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com