Google Wants to Be Socialable with New +1 Feature

Google recently announced its answer to Facebook’s “Like” buttons – the +1 button Right now a small number of Google searchers in the U.S. will see a “+1” button next to search listings and AdWords ads when they are logged into a Google Account.

Hover over the ad and the “+1” box will become colorful.

Click the “+1” and the box turns blue.

If a searcher creates a Google Profile, they can then select this “+1” button to show that they like this search result or ad.  (If a user later changes their mind, they can undo the “+1.”  A “-1” perhaps? )  These “+1” selections will then show in search results and ads to people within the searchers’ (Google) social network. This concept functions in the same way as Facebook’s “Like” option, i.e. people will be more likely to trust and explore search results if their friends have already like them and deemed them relevant.

As mentioned earlier, in order to take part in the “+1” buttons, a user must first create a Google Profile. If a user has a Gmail account, then he or she already has a Google profile . . . but is likely unaware it exists.  (I have a Gmail account and never knew I had a Google Profile) After a profile is created, a user’s social network will include:

  • People in a user’s Gmail and Google Talk chat list
  • People in a user’s “My Contacts” group in Google Contacts
  • People a user follows in Google reader or Google Buzz (remember Buzz?)

Currently, users can only include Google-based contacts, so no Twitter contacts just yet (it’s in the works though!).  Create a Google profile and you’re ready to starting “+1-ing”!

Since I’m a PPC gal, let’s take a look at how this new feature is advertised in AdWords.  Google says advertisers will love this new feature and that in previous testing click-through rates on “+1” ads increased. Some more AdWords related information from Google:

  • All ads will be getting these buttons
  • Initially, there was no way to turn off these buttons. However, now advertisers can fill out an opt out form
  • Clicks on the “+1” buttons next to ads will NOT count as a paid click
  • Advertiser will be able to see stats about which ads are getting the most “+1s”
  • Websites that a searcher gives a “+1” can also affect paid search ads. For example, if I was on a car rental site and I clicked the “+1” button on that site, my “+1” could later be shown in an AdWords ad for the car rental site if that URL was used as the landing page. Google says it will change this later so that the URL with a “+1” and the AdWords URL don’t have to be identical for the “+1” to appear in the ad.

As of right now, this new feature won’t cost more and will increase click-through rate. Sounds good, right? I guess time will tell if this has a negative impact.  The question remains: “Will ads that I, as a search account manager, think relevant actually be relevant to the public at large?”

We here at SEER will be sure to monitor this and give updates as development of this new feature progresses.  It will soon be rolled out to websites (early releases to websites have shown a slight hiccup.)

Will the “+1” button become as popular as Facebook’s “Like” feature? Most people go to Google to find information and to Facebook to share their information with friends. Getting people to create Google profiles sounds challenging. Facebook had already established a network when it released the “Like” button. Would this new social network have as many contacts for an individual as a Facebook account does? I guess only time will tell.