updated 11:25 am EST, Wed February 1, 2012
Microsoft full-page ad tackles Google policy swap
Microsoft has started running a slew of full-page newspaper ads in an attempt to scare users over Google's simpler privacy policies. It claims that Google's attempts to simplify and clarify its policies are disingenuous and that the real goal is to "connect the dots" between Google's services and track users. It goes on to insist that the policy makes it difficult to back out.
"To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product," Microsoft said. "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."
As expected, the ad promptly tries to steer users towards Bing search, Hotmail, Internet Explorer, and Office 365, which Microsoft claims are more respectful as it has more than just advertisers to take care of.
The ads are targeting the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today and will go through in a three-part run.
The ad, as is sometimes the case with Microsoft's directly targeted campaigns, is misleading. Google has made clear that privacy controls are the same and that it's the policy wording, not the tracking, that has changed. Google has said it hopes to eventually cross-pollinate information between services, but it hasn't said it would prevent customers from declining public details on certain services.
Microsoft has been gaining share for Bing, but even now it regularly loses tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on growing the service in an attempt to compete with Google. The Windows developer is concerned that the Internet might reduce the need for its software without having an alternative.