tl;dr: Google is in the healthcare business. Their first product is Emotional Insurance. But it’s not free.
I am writing this post on the morning after the Super Bowl.
By now, if you even bothered to watch the game, you most likely have forgotten many of the commercials.
You may have even forgotten who won the game. (It was Kansas City ;-).
For me, there were two commercials that stood out, both for the same reason.
The first was from New York Life which managed to teach us 4 words in Greek, which I thought was really impressive.
The second was the Google “Alzheimers/Loretta” ad.
I give both brands a lot of credit for having created such powerful content.
As my NSM partner, Donny, likes to say these were “commercials that make you cry.”
The Price of Emotional Insurance
What was interesting to me was that both ads were selling the same thing, insurance.
One is financial. One is emotional
Yet, these two products come with different costs, one seen, one unseen.
An insurance product, such as the one from New York Life, which gives a feeling of love, comes with a cost of premiums that you pay in the form of dollars.
The Google ad comes with the cost of your data. That data, eventually, is turned into dollars. What’s more, the data can be harvested for years afterward. And because the value of data can if managed well, return increasing amounts of value, Google has a need for ever more of it.
So, while Loretta is memorialized thanks to Google, there are “hidden fees” in the form of personal data and privacy. Google is going to want to know
– “When did Loretta’s husband start to have these symptoms?”
-“What else did Loretta’s husbands start searching for around the time he started forgetting things?”
-‘which doctors did he go to see?’
-‘which websites and keywords did he use?”
-“which clinics did he go to?”
-and so on….
So, Google not only knows that Alzheimer’s is on the way, it knows a lot about the experience of Alzheimer’s.
And it can use that to sell ads more effectively, raising ad rates for all of those people just a few cents every time.
Slowly, but surely, like erosion, the prices creep up, which the providers then have to pass on to Loretta’s husband.
That’s how he and his family eventually pay.
But wait, there’s more…
What happens in 10 years when the children and grandchildren of Loretta want these stories and information? Will they have to pay for it? Is Google going to keep it for them for free, altruistically? They are just good citizens, right?
Google may say “sure, it’s going to be always available for you,” but there’s nothing that Loretta’s family can get from Google that will guarantee their rights to access this information in the future.
This is the “platform-risk” associated with centralized monopolies, which Google obviously is.
No Free Lunches
Don’t get me wrong, I thought the ad was beautiful and cynic of big data companies that I am, it still moved me.
But I saw the “brandwashing” that Google was doing.
Yes, you can have all of this and Loretta will be remembered, but the cost of “mental insurance” is the same, if not more, than financial insurance.
It’s just that the payment mechanism and timeframe is different.