Google Missing Mark For Use Of Environmental Data In Search Campaigns

It's no coincidence that just days following U.S. President Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, Google's message to the world focuses on mapping air pollution on city and rural streets to make people aware of climate changes and greenhouse gases. 

Google's logo on its home search page also went green Monday. While it leads to a 72-page report outlining its commitment to the environment, the options Google should explore are ways to integrate that environmental data in search advertising and marketing. It would give brands can use it to convey specific messages to consumers -- similar to the way IBM uses triggers from The Weather Company.

In a blog post, the company announced a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund using Aclima's equipment mounted on Google Street View cars. The endeavor began in 2015, and on Monday the three companies shared the first results of the goal to measure air quality using mobile sensors.



Maps of the Oakland, California area released by EDF show nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon -- all pollutants emitted from cars, trucks and other sources that can affect the health of humans and the world's climate.

And while the timing of Google's partnership may seem a little too purposeful, marketers should consider elements such as air pollutants, pollen levels, air temperature and commute times to work as data triggers when planning search advertising and marketing campaigns.

The project uses sensor technology and experts from the University of Texas at Austin who worked with Aclima to measure and analyze pollution data collected by Google Street View cars. These cars were deployed to areas of Oakland, California where there are three stationary, regulatory-grade air quality monitors.

High levels of pollutants were found near homes and in a playground close to industrial warehouses. Any business that relies on "heavy-duty diesel trucks" can pose a health risk to its neighbors.

On the maps, researchers highlighted spots that demonstrate how pockets of higher pollution can form. Many of these locations are near homes, schools and community centers. Data was collected during the day on weekdays, and sampled each road an average of 30 times. Based on the research, experts cannot say "exactly what the risks are for people who live, work and play nearby." The next step is to analyze health data to examine the health implications for people who experience long-term exposure to points of higher pollution like these.

Meanwhile, using this data to message consumers in marketing and advertising campaigns based on the type of products and services they support seems the next likely step for brands.

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