Fridays with Frost: Google Secure Search


It’s that time of the week again, when we sit down with CEO Frost Prioleau to get his insight on the week in AdTech.

Q: On Monday, marketers woke up surprised to find out that Google had moved to 100% secure search. What exactly does that mean and should we really have been that surprised?

A: Secure search means that Google no longer will pass keyword data back to websites. So when you log into your analytics programs, you will likely see (not provided) as your highest ranking keyword. This is significant to content owners who rely heavily on Google keyword referral information to analyze and improve their properties, but it shouldn’t have been that surprising. Back in 2011, Google started moving toward encrypting search for users that were signed into Google. So, we knew this was coming eventually.

Q: If programmatic marketing platforms like use search data to optimize real-time bidding (RTB), then wouldn’t Google’s move to secure search have a major impact on the value they deliver?

A: Well, that depends on what your data network looks like. If you are relying on Google to gather most of your keyword data, then, yes, Google’s move to secure search probably stings a bit. But from the very beginning here at, we have purposely created a diversified data network so no one search engine’s policies could impact our performance. Just like you diversify your stock portfolio, you want to have a diversified data network.

Q: So where else are people searching besides Google?

A: We have always felt that Google was a much smaller percentage of overall search activity than the 70% or so market share reported by Comscore. This is because we see search increasingly happening on vertical search engines, individual web sites and local news sites. For example, travel searchers typically go directly to travel sites like Kayak, Orbitz or Travelocity to conduct their searches. Likewise, auto searchers often go to Kelly Blue Book or the Edmunds site. Google might be the primary search, but search behavior continues in other places as people start refining and narrowing their content options.

Q: So what does all this mean for customers?

A: Because we have a diversified data network and because we are much more than just a search retargeter, the impact of the Google Secure Search has been limited for our clients. Since is a complete programmatic marketing platform our clients typically execute campaigns using a variety of tactics. In addition to search retargeting, our clients use keyword contextual targeting, site retargeting, CRM data retargeting and IP address targeting to achieve their goals. If anything, we are seeing increasing search data and record spend going through our platform this week–so we’re not too concerned.