Google+ and Advertising

Yesterday Google released Google+, it’s third attempt at social networking after flopping with Wave and Buzz. Google+ already appears to be a more complete solution that its predecessors. No doubt, the project has resulted from significant funding and will require a continued investment for further enhancements to better entice users already embedded in Facebook’s 500 million+ community. This begs the question: Why is Google willing to spend so much into a market with such an aggressive dominate leader? For the same reason that Google does anything: ads.

Traditional Google ads come from, at most, anonymized targeting. Social enables more powerful targeting and messaging through interpersonal relationships. Take these two scenarios:
  1. After doing a search for TV listings, an ad appears for the show Boardwalk Games in Oz. The ad informs that this is one of those awesome HBO series and has already won 15 Emmys (even though the Emmys haven’t happened yet) and has a link to the trailer.
  2. A friend’s stream says that they are watching HBO’s latest Emmy-licious series. This is followed by their posts detailing exactly how awesomely compelling Boardwalk Games in Oz really is. Comments within these posts contain debates about that scene where that one guy did that thing. This is finally followed by that same ad containing the trailer link.
In the first scenario, the motive to view the trailer is a combination of a desire to find something to watch combined with a possible interest in the type of show being advertised. In the second scenario, a friend tacitly recommends the series while simultaneously creating a topic of conversation where Boardwalk Games in Oz is required viewing in order to participate. This socially motivates interest in the show which results in increased trailer clicks. In short, people are much more likely to click on ads that represent the interest of their peers. Higher click through rates create more demand which translates to more money.

Despite it’s inherent and inevitable costs, Google+ exists because Google sees social advertising as a lucrative and growing market worth substantial investment.