Thanks for the thoughtful and informative response. I did opt out of most of the stuff; have location tracking off, disabled Google +, Google Play Music, Books, Magazines, Games, Video, Hangouts, etc; use Startpage for most searches, use Firefox not Chrome, have Now turned off. Only occasionally use Gmail but I love Google Maps and Play Store.
In any case, I tend to be a pessimist and skeptic about such things, especially when I have no real proof that "opting out" really does anything. It is nice to hear someone a bit more on the "inside" that relays positive info.