In the world of social media, it seems like every month one of the big players adds a new feature to their advertising channels. The latest announcement came from Google, stating that beginning on November 11th, they will use Google Plus profile pictures, reviews and recommendations in their advertisements.
Google’s statement explains that:
We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with.
Google’s new “shared endorsements” feature means that your reviews of products, stores and businesses, restaurants, as well as music and apps from the Google Play store can show up in new advertisements displayed to friends and broader connections when they search Google.
Users that are concerned about their privacy can opt out of this new form of advertising easily from their Google Plus profile. Also, users under-18 will automatically not be included in this social advertising.
Google “Shared Endorsements” vs. Facebook Native Advertising
This form of targeted social advertising is not new – Facebook has done this with their native advertising, where “Sponsored Posts” appear in users newsfeeds with likes from friends and also down the right side of the page.
The main difference between the two platforms advertising methods is where the advertisements show up to users. Facebook “sponsored posts” only appear when users are browsing Facebook, and they appear seamlessly in their personal newsfeed and down the right hand side of the screen. On Google, “shared endorsements” do not appear when users are using Google Plus. Instead, these advertisements appear more strategically. For example, if you are searching Google to book your next spa appointment, a Google ad may appear on the right side of the page with your friends Google Plus photo and review of a spa she likes.
Which is better to advertise your business?
Both Facebook and Google offer online advertising channels that will expose your business to a large number of consumers. The question of which channel is more effective is debatable.
When advertising on Facebook, you can be certain that your advertisements will appear in front of consumers. However, one must ask the question of whether this advertising strategy is invasive. Do Facebook users want to see advertisements when browsing their newsfeed? Will they click your advertisement and purchase your product or service? Or will the ad simply be annoyance to their Facebook experience and not provide you a beneficial return on investment?
Google’s new “shared endorsements” are more strategic in their placement, targeting consumers closer to the point of purchase. In theory, users will more likely be open to viewing advertisements in this mindset. However, with the recent announcement of “shared endorsements”, many users are opting out of participating and some are even protesting.
Google’s announcement has spurred an interesting protest which involves some Google users exchanging their Google+ profile pictures for that of Google chairman Eric Schmidt so it will be his face appearing in the advertisements.
— Bill Cahill (@crazedcrow) October 12, 2013
The reality of online advertising
The reality with online advertising is that some users will respond positively and some will respond negatively. It is not an exact science. No matter which online platform you choose to advertise your business, Facebook, Google or others, there are a few guidelines you must keep in mind. Summarized from a previous Marwick blog, here are four guidelines:
- Research which social media platform(s) your target audience uses and focus your efforts there.
- Constantly analyze your advertising approach and make adjustments as necessary.
- Use tools available to monitor your success.
- Analyze what is working for your competitors and what isn’t and adjust your strategy.
Online advertising can be a very effective way to connect with consumers. Businesses just need to be strategic, focused and willing to adapt their approach over time.