Google is not aiming to inject ads into your social experience. Vic Gundotra, Google’s SVP of Engineering has said that users don’t want to be attacked by advertisements while looking at photos of their newborn daughter. Given that Google has always been about recognizing and improving the user experience, this is a relief.
Google’s goal is to turn ads into content. It sounds odd, but if we consider the relevance, a recommendation from a friend related to a particular restaurant wouldn’t simply be an ad, it would be what you’re looking for.
Google has also said that during times when we’re socializing online, it’s not the right time to display ads. The right time is when there’s a moment of commercial intent, and this can be captured by search. When you’re looking for that new restaurant to check out, that’s when Google wants to display your friend’s recommendation. Given that Google has such a broad reach across the web for a variety of online activities, it has the ability to save the social ads for cases where they’re most applicable.
A massive amount of purchases begin with a Google search. Google can tell whether you’re using it for shopping, and it can identify exactly what you’re shopping for, therefore creating opportunity to show you that friendly social recommendation.
If you consider what other social sites are doing, such as Facebook and Twitter, they’re forced to resort to throwing ads in your social streams. In order to monetize Google+, Google doesn’t need to push ads to you within the social section at all. It saves the social data that’s gathered there and applies it to search ads when you’re searching to potentially buy something.
Some interesting data that was shared with the New York Times shows that the strategy is working. Google is seeing a 5-10% click-through improvement on ads that have a social annotation through Google properties. If you consider the significance of a 10% increase in CTR, it’s massive, and shows that social strategies can’t be ignored.
There has been a lot of talk about the value of social search, but seeing how it’s being integrated and improving the user experience, it’s certainly more helpful than people think.
Do you support Google’s approach for a more social and relevant search experience? Will Google+ stay ‘ad free’ or will we see new forms of social ads being introduced?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.