Living in your own private internet: one Google, one policy, one campaign

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Google turns towards using offline advertising in the PR and public service campaign "Good To Know", its largest-ever consumer education advertising effort addresses privacy concerns upon the launch of Search plus Your World and a new privacy policy.

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Brand: Google | Media: print, outdoor, digital | Country: US & UK | Sector: Technology | Objective: educate the mass market | Agency: M&C Saatchi and Glue Isobar | Format: multi-channel advertising

Google, in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau, launches its "Good to Know" ad campaign to ease online privacy and security concerns. Its aim is to educate internet users about online privacy and address some of the basics of how to stay safe when on the web by offering practical advice and tips, including how to manage your data on the web and understanding cookies.

The campaign coincides with Google’s upcoming new Privacy Policy , effective 1st March, which is meant to unify their 60+ privacy policies into a single user agreement. The policy will provide users a simpler, more consistent Google experience and also serve as a means to collect and use personal data, making its search results and ads more targeted.

The “Good to Know” campaign is likely a reaction to Google’s settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year regarding the severe privacy flaw that cropped up with the launch of its short lived social networking service Buzz whereby personal contacts of its email users were publicly disclosed. This led to a settlement with the FTC requiring the company to implement a privacy program and submit to external audits of its privacy policies every other year.

The campaign also comes on the heels of Google’s new search feature called Search plus Your World, in which content from its Google+ social network is blended with search results.

These changes have evoked renewed scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission who is reportedly investigating whether Google’s search results favour its own content over competitors. Twitter has also publicly denounced these Google changes as it claims they may curb delivery of the most relevant results from searches.

The U.S. campaign, based on an initiative launched in Britain in October, is credited to M&C Saatchi and Glue Isobar. This multi-channel effort ran across print, outdoor, digital, and prominently within the London Underground advertising spaces. It will now be extended to run in U.S., again with a large offline component including billboard ads; print ads in newspapers and magazines like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Time and The New Yorker; and ads in New York and Washington D.C. subway stations.

From the masters of online advertising using such traditional channels for this campaign seems out of character. However, its reach is much larger amongst the less digitally obsessed markets through these channels. Since the thrust of the campaign is to educate users on internet safety - to those who may even have reservations about being online - offline channels should have a big impact.

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