Why Google’s Chrome + IE8 Matter to You in A Major Way

Posted: September 7, 2008 in Data Driven, Datanomics, The Marketing Industry
Tags: , , , , ,

This has been an interesting week in the quiet “browser war” that has been slowly emanating over the last few years. The leader of the pack, by a good margin, is still Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, followed by Firefox, and the Safari Mac browser. New to the foray is Google’s Chrome browser, launched this week to an astounding buzz and an industry full of question marks about the potential of how it will compete, what market share it can achieve, and what’s up Google’s sleeve.

It only makes sense for Google to have a browser. As the most powerful company in the internet industry develops new features and products, including a major play on the mobile OS with Android, having a significant piece of the browser market may help Google continue to provide the ubiquitous consistency of ‘Googleness’ throughout the online [ad supported] experience. They have already proven that they can compete in established markets such as free email, mapping, local listings…the list goes on.

IE & Safari are distributed through a self fulfilling distribution system – the machines in which they come pre-installed. Is Google’s dominant search position and ability to integrate Chrome links into many popular features and products such as Gmail enough to compete with built in distribution?

Firefox has proven that this mold can be broken and that consumers are willing to download an alternative browser if it does indeed offer a better value proposition.  In fact, Firefox commands around a 20% market share, and continues to erode IE’s market share each year. Heck – in June when the Firefox 3 browser was released, it set a Guinness Book record of 8 million downloads on that one day alone. Considering that Mozilla, the parent company of Firefox, has had a close data and advertising relationship with Google throughout this growth phase, and Google has been Mozilla’s largest source of revenue, the release of the Chrome browser does stand to turn this relationship and Firefox’s position upside down. Only time will tell.

So what does this mean to us as marketers? Well, the advertising implications can be huge, and Google/Doubleclick having a browser with significant market share can equate to a significant amount of data and advertising. Moral of the story – keep your eyes on Chrome.

Speaking of data and advertising…

Microsoft’s new IE8 browser, currently in beta, has a new privacy feature called In-Private, which stands to pose a huge issue to all facets of online marketing.  While I am all for features that protect consumers, I am mind boggled at features that do so at the detriment of the progression of marketing relevancy. This new feature, when turned on, will turn all cookies into session based cookies – thus eliminating the future use of cookies for marketing and research, not to mention personalization purposes. Of course, the consumer can create a list of favorite sites, whose first party cookies will continue to be allowed to provide personalization, however, this can create an industry-wide economic disaster  if utilized  by a significant amount of consumers. The big issue in my eyes is that  unlike total blockers, that would prevent the cookies from being placed on a consumer’s machine, we can still drop cookies but would have no idea how many people were using this tool, thus making a percentage of consumers look like new unique visitors. This would wreak havoc on the accuracy of market research, media planning tools, behavioral targeting, and many features of online advertising and marketing that provide efficiency to the marketer, increased revenue to publishers and of course relevancy to the consumer. A lose-lose across the board. What was Microsoft thinking?

Let’s hope this does not turn into a feature that gains wide spread adoption.

  1. John Brigg says:

    Good points, IE8 is definitely going to be a problem. I hope that every blogger covers this story. It’s too important to be left out. Kudos!

  2. theotherkiwi says:

    “wreak havoc on the accuracy of market research”

    How is this a “lose-lose” ? I see it as a win-win since I don’t want to be tracked online and anyone that thinks they can use this data for market research has to be kidding themselves.

    Do some research of your own and look at AdBlockPlus and Noscript for Firefox and then comment on privacy. Web site owners and marketing executives do not have a right to record every step you take on the internet.

  3. Jason Heller says:

    Thanks for that perspective. You bring up a great example of what unfortunately is a growing false perception of what this tracking does and does not offer in terms of both pros and cons. There is no personally identifiable data collected by marketers and there are no negatives to this tracking, big brother is not watching you.

    Research and tracking help make the entire web experience more relevant and enjoyable for each and every one of us. Additionally, research and tracking are important, because without it, the economic viability of the web wanes for the marketers who fund the existence of the very content and tools that you use for both professional and personal purposes.

    Without research and advertising, very few content of utility sites would exist – can you imagine life without Google? Life without news or content?

  4. Darcy Kieran says:

    Very interesting.

    I presume the quantity of users who currently, systematically & regularly delete all cookies is pretty low because of the steps involved, right?

    Nevertheless, marketers already have, today, that “new unique visitor” problem. IE8 is just making it easier and, therefore, could make a small problem become significant, right?

  5. Jason Heller says:

    Actually, IE8 can make an understated and dirty secret problem that nobody likes to talk about, a really ugly economic breakdown of an entire data driven industry.

    Of course – the major stakeholders in the industry wouldn’t let that happen, but the possibility looms…and I wonder what the heck Microsoft was thinking.

    Depending on source, the % of cookie clearing monthly can be as high as 10% – 30% – which is significant and the discrepancy of data a major problem.

    There has not been an industry study released in sometime on it. In 2005 & 2006 as an industry, we widely pursued the issue due to the proliferation of anti-spyware software deleting cookies with everything else they were cleaning up. This issue has changed, thankfully.

    In the 2006 Atlas study, they proved a discrepancy between what people claim to do and their behavior and found that consumers overstate the deletion of cookies.

    In 2007 comScore released a report that tracked “cookie deletion/resetting events” as tracked on their panel, and determined that approximately 30% of internet users cleared cookies monthly. The data was from Dec 2006. Cookie clearing has since declined, not risen, but offhand I do not have a report on how much.

    Either way – the consumer perception is that “cookies are bad”, when in fact they are of course not only not bad, but the corner stone of delivering a relevant content and marketing experience to consumers.

  6. Jeff D says:

    Microsoft was probably thinking that the best way to get end users to adopt a browser is to add the features the users think they want ahead of the features that advertisers think they should want.

    While the economic issue of advertising funding useful websites seems obvious; I greatly question the proposition that “relevancy to the consumer” is sacrificed. Targetted advertising is good for advertisers; I doubt most consumers see advertising in general as enhancing their experience.

    Commercial interests need to innovate and adapt to how users want to control their own browsing interactions; not lobby for software that puts the advertising agenda ahead of the end user.

    Good call Microsoft.

  7. Jason Heller says:

    @JeffD Your point – “Idoubt most consumers see advertising in general as enhancing their experience.”, is an excellent one.

    I’d go further and say that given a choice consumers would want no advertising…But of course in reality, most free content will be funded by advertising for the long haul. In the absence of advertising, a lot of publishing would cease. Creating relevancy really does enhance the overall experience, even if it is not a conscious acknowledgement. Irrelevant advertising creates clutter and poorer experiences.

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