I am quoted in WSJ MarketWatch Piece on Google’s New Unpaid Endorsement Program

October 16th, 2013

I previously blogged about Google’s new “unpaid endorsement” program. How does it work? If you like something on Google+, and someone in your circle searches for something related to that item, your face will pop up saying you liked that product. It is easy enough to opt out.

Quentin Fottrell wrote a piece for Wall Street Journal MarketWatch about this new program, and quoted my views on this new approach to targeted advertising:

Google+ users who allow their +1 recommendations to be viewed publicly will have to change their settings to prevent their profile from being used in virtual advertisements. “It reflects a new wave of marketing,” says Josh Blackman, assistant professor at the South Texas College of Law. “But the company is often the only one who benefits.”

People may want to think twice before becoming one of Google’s legions of unpaid endorsers, legal and privacy experts say. Publicly endorsing a favorite movie or restaurant is one thing, Blackman says, but following or liking a marriage counseling services or bed bug exterminator could reveal far more than you intended. What’s potentially embarrassing or damaging for a person’s reputation, he says, can be a lucrative source of business for companies.

And, he also (inadvertently) quoted two Boggs clerks in one paragraph–Michael Fertik of Reputation.com and I:

Endorsements are not always so easy to spot, says Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of Reputation.com, which works to keep consumers’ web use anonymous. A cautionary tale: Fertik recently met with an executive of a Fortune 500 company who publicly listed a sexual aid on her “wish list” of her favorite e-commerce site. Two of the world’s biggest online marketplaces, eBay and Amazon, have “wish lists” — things people earmark with the intention of buying at a later date. The “wish list” default settings are private on eBay and public on Amazon. “Privacy settings don’t take into account the types of products you might be interested in buying,” Blackman says. When used properly, he says “wish lists” can be a great way to give friends and family a hint about birthday gifts.