We're going to be hearing a lot about social networks in the coming days with Google+ finally opening up to the public and Facebook making several big changes, and this post is no exception.
Coinciding with the public opening of Google+ is a new feature on all display ads that will be served through the Google Display Network, which currently holds about 15 percent of the online ad network marketing share. Starting in early October, all of these advertisements will come with a +1 button attached to them, allowing users to recommend the ads to their friends on Google+. Google has already been using this button so that Plussers can recommend content, search results and websites.
Google will start taking these recommendations into account when they are serving ads, so if a user takes the time to endorse a particular advertisement, that ad will have a much better chance of showing up on Web pages (served by the Google Display Network) that their friends visit, as well.
According to Google, "The Google Display Network gives ads that have been recommended an extra boost by including them in the auction for any page a friend visits."
All in all, this should be very useful for advertisers, as users are probably going to be less likely to ignore ads that have been recommended by their friends, which puts more of an actual social spin on the social media side of advertising.
This is all part of an attempt by Google to "extend the +1 buttons as broadly as possible," which is something that only Google can really do, since no other advertising networks have any kind of social networking outlet near what Google has accomplished with Google+. There is even talk that they are looking to make the button available to ads outside of the Google Display Network.
Of course, it's beneficial for Google, too, as it can now collect data about the effectiveness of these ads, even if it doesn't get money from the advertisers. Eventually, this will probably lead to improved relevance and clickthrough rates for the ads that are sold.
According to Google, within the next several weeks, all US advertisers will see the +1 buttons added to their ads. Currently, there is no way to opt-out of this feature. The names of connections that recommend the ad will be listed below the creative. Advertisers will not be charged when users click a +1 button. Google also promises to share +1 button data for both organic and paid search results.
Potential Impact of The +1 Button
- While it is too early to know what the exact impact the new button will have on the performance of the sponsored ads on Google, here are a few things advertisers should consider:While the quality of search results is paramount to Google, the company will never do anything to jeopardize its major source of revenue.
- Remember how Google Instant Search was supposed to change everything about the search behavior of its users? After hundreds of articles full of dire predictions, the impact of the new feature ended up being negligible. While a drastic step for Google, +1 is unlikely to have a dramatic impact on AdWords advertisers.
- If there is any impact, it will probably be most pronounced with the click-through rates.
It is a rule of thumb that anything that helps an ad standout will have a positive impact on CTR. For example, Google claims that the Google Checkout icon lifted CTR by 10%. The +1 button is different in that every advertiser will display one. It’s the engagement with the ad and the advertiser’s website that will make all the difference. Google visitors, viewing a search results page, would see the names of their connections that have +1’d an ad appear right under it, grabbing their attention.
- +1’d ads will likely make more of a difference for generic terms, where brand affiliation is weaker. For queries that have a branded term, the searcher has a much better idea of what he or she is searching for and tends to look for the listing of the company website first.
- Both the creatives and the landing pages will have to be built with the Google +1 social layer in mind. Just like with other aspects of social media marketing, website visitors will have to be engaged enough to +1 the content, which would most likely translate back into more exposure for the ads on the search result pages.
Google +1 button is just another step in the path to convergence of search and social. Social media will continue to gain in importance as a quality signal for search results. For AdWords advertisers, these changes mean that writing an ad copy and building a list of keywords might not be enough. As a campaign’s performance becomes more and more dependent on the channels and signals outside search, a comprehensive strategy that incorporates search, social media and content development will have to be developed in order to succeed.