The Google +1 button is quickly pervading the web, allowing users to explicitly endorse brands on their natural search results and even on Google paid search and display ads. With this week's launch of Google Brand Pages, these endorsements now feed into a brand's Google+ profile and contribute to ad targeting algorithms.
This is a huge move by Google, and will have major implications for Google advertisers if +1 usage continues to rise. Similar to Facebook's "Like" button, the +1 is a form of endorsement by a user of a brand or web page. Google has stated that their advertising algorithm will start to factor in a user's +1 history, as well as the history of people in a user's Circles.
The launch of the Google+ Brand Profile increases the impact of +1s on advertising in two important ways:
- Brand Pages are a hub to fuel cross-channel marketing activity. The Brand Page will aggregate all +1 activity across a marketer's website, advertising and natural search results. Essentially, Brand Pages are the aggregator of all of a Google+ user's activity with a brand, anywhere on the Google Web. With a central place for user activity, there is now a very real opportunity to drive stronger connections between marketing channels (search and display, brand and direct response, as well as paid, earned and owned).
- Brands now have some control and insight into +1 behavior. With the launch of Brand Pages, marketers can start controlling their Google+ fate – creating content to engage their audience and elicit more +1 connections. As a brand's connections increase, the information feeding into Google's targeting engines will become more robust to fuel advertising efforts. With more connections, the targeting pool gets bigger, ads get more relevant and users respond more. More importantly, these channels are connected and can influence each other. Response to a Google+ brand post may affect who sees a paid search result. A +1 endorsement on a paid search ad can inform the targeting for a display ad on the Google Display Network. These advertising elements are reacting to each other and being powered by something the brand can control.
It's hard to overstate the significance of this. Google is telling us that the days of planning, optimizing and measuring paid media performance in a vacuum, independent of earned or owned media, are over. A marketer's Brand Page might impact the performance of their paid search campaign, which might also have an impact on what appears in natural search results. For anyone who has spent time helping marketers understand how to use Facebook to reach their audiences, this is old news; Facebook advertising and Facebook Pages work very well together. But as the largest online advertising player, Google's play here is critical.
Measuring this interaction and influence will be key to help marketers better plan for this integrated, cross-channel future. Facebook and Nielsen teamed up to measure this through the BrandLift Study. Given the tremendous amount of data sitting within Google, we anticipate a measurement solution from them as well.
A relationship requires an investment in time and attention, as well as continuous focus. Google+ Brand Pages are a place where brands can do this. They will be a hub for Brands to start interacting with their audience within Google's already existing network. In order to impact paid search and display, brands will need to create content that engages the audience and maximizes interactions. Brands that do this successfully will have a truly integrated marketing program – with each piece playing a critical role in fueling performance.