UPDATE 3/13/15 10:17 AM EST: Okay, this article should just be titled The WSJ Got It Wrong! Instead of being able to track Hispanics through their computers, Google has assured us its a much less alarmist story of Google being able to suggest Hispanic-trending videos for advertisers to buy spots on. While that’s much more releasing, it also makes the story much more boring.
Hispanic is the new Preferred on YouTube. Last year, Google introduced Google Preferred, a system of targeting specific top tier channels that would jibe with advertisers’ intents of reaching maximum audiences. This year, it’s all about being selective — and first up is the Hispanic audiences.
As part of Google Preferred’s new upgrade, the service can now specifically target individual communities within YouTube for brand specific advertising. Basically, the computer can now tell if you are Mexican and will show you things of interest specifically to you. The emphasis Google put on it, according to the Wall Street Journal, was not that it could target Hispanic channels and assume the audience was Hispanic as well — it could find Hispanic users no matter what they were watching by analyzing their traits. Well, that’s spooky.
According to the WSJ, “Among the new research reports findings was that 52% of Digital Hispanics use English most of the time that they spend online–data that may encourage more fence-sitting advertisers to engage with this market, whether they have Spanish-language ads at their disposal or not.”
Hopefully that’s all it is and not some sort of Google-led racial apartheid. I guess we’ll see if Google starts marching everyone off to concentration camps over the coming year. But until that time, it’s worth it to see if Google starts sending you ads that seem oddly race-specific. There’s a chance they know what race you are even if you don’t.