It's being called the "data apocalypse."  Google announcing a drastic change in how it shares all of its search data with businesses and marketers.  "The operative word here is that they aren't providing publishers with 'free' information on which words people use to search for their company on the site," explains marketing expert Bill Fogarty with the Houston ad firm FKM.  He tells KTRH that companies, large and small, have become accustomed to using Google's treasure trove of search data to better market themselves to consumers.  "They've gotten a little bit spoiled, number one, and obviously they have become very comfortable dealing with Google," says Fogarty.

Google's decision to make it harder for companies to access data on public searches has upset many businesses, but Fogarty understands both sides.  "I can see why they're upset," he says.  "But I can also see why Google, which is a privately owned business, and one of the primary objectives in their organization is to generate a profit, why they made that decision."  Also pleased with the decision are Internet privacy advocates, not because it will pad Google's bottom line, but because it will make it tougher for all of the search data to fall into the wrong hands.  However, Fogarty cautions that access to the data will not be drastically limited.  "You can still get the information from Google, but it's on the basis of a paid search and not a free search," he says.

Not every business is upset with Google's decision, though.  A Texas-based home security provider called Protect America tells KTRH in an e-mail that "we're not worried at all."  In fact, a company rep writes that Google curbing free access to search data is a good thing because it will level the playing field among businesses that rely on the info.  The company rep says, "Simply put: Google has to keep the Internet honest so it doesn't become one giant pre-conceived advertisement."  Whether or not the so-called "data apocalypse" accomplishes that goal remains to be seen, but for now consumers can know that their Google searches will be a little harder to come by for marketers.