On October 11th, Google announced an update to its Terms of Service agreement that allows the tech giant to show more of your Google+ and Google+ Local information in paid advertisements. Starting November 11th, your Google+ profile information, such as your photo, comments, +1’s, and business reviews can be featured in both organic SERPs and paid ads. For advertisers, this adds an exciting social layer to traditional Adwords creative, and opens the door to more personalized targeting.
Yet, not everyone was thrilled by the Shared Endorsements update, as the announcement was met with protests against the “increased monetization” of Google users, as well as potential data privacy issues. Here’s my take on why the Shared Endorsements update may not be as scary as you think.
You’re Still in Charge of Your Google+ Data
Social networks, most notably Facebook, have helped give users a choice about what content they’d like to be publicly available. As Jared Newman noted, Google still gives you the option to hide your data from anyone that is not in your circle, with the exception of Google+ Local and Play Store app reviews. So long as you just circle family and friends, who presumably already know this information about you, you’re still in charge of your data used in Google ads. One important thing to realize is that Google has already been showing shared endorsements in ads for the past two years—the new terms of service just allow for more of your +1 information to be used. At the end of the day, if you don’t want your data available to the masses, don’t put it on the internet.
The Internet Runs On Advertising
Have you ever wondered how Google generates ~$50B in revenue every year, yet the vast majority of their products are free? According to the company’s Q3 report released last week, roughly 85% of their $14.89B of quarterly revenue came from ads. Google realized early on that creating the most sophisticated search engine was only half the battle—they also had to build the most robust online advertising platform on the market. They’ve succeeded at both, and now they are able to embark on futuristic endeavors like creating self-driving cars while providing largely free products to consumers. Don’t want to see more ads? You might be trading ads for monthly subscriptions.
Personalized Ads Are Better Ads
In the Terms of Service update, Google shed light on the future of Google ads and perhaps the most important function of Google+: to let marketers leverage your personal data for more targeted advertising and more robust ad products. This might include pulling your Google+ picture into ads targeted to your friends, or pulling up a restaurant review you wrote when your brother is looking for a place to eat dinner. You might consider that “Big Brother” or you can look at it as Google trying to help you make informed decisions quicker.
Bottom line? Google is a business. When Google creates happy customers and ROI for marketers, they make more money. I, for one, am glad that advertisers have shifted significant portions of their budgets to digital rather than stuffing my mailbox with coupons every day.