Google+ to Challenge Facebook in Business Brand Ads

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-07-16

Google+ to Challenge Facebook in Business Brand Ads

Though it's early days for Google+, the social network has shown signs of keen user engagement, according to statistics rattled off by none other than Google CEO Larry Page July 14 during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

Google+ has over 10 million users and rising, as the search giant has reopened invites since July 10. Google+ users are sharing over 1 billion items each day. Moreover, users are clicking the +1 recommendation button 2.3 billion times a day.

"We've been really excited about Google+ really improving the overall experience like how you would share in real life," Page said on the earnings call. "And we're getting great reviews on that. And there's a lot of magic built into the product that exposes that."

Business advertisers looking to exploit social media for marketing messaging and ultimately financial gain are angling to seize on that magic Page alluded to. But other than a first mover experiment from Ford Motor Co and a few other select companies, they will have to wait a little longer.

Christian Oestlien, the advertising lead on Google+, has asked businesses, and other organizations not to fashion business brand pages-similar to Facebook Pages-so that Google can optimize the business-user experience.

Oestlien said on his Google+ profile page Google is very excited about boosting the business experience with rich analytics and the ability to connect that identity to Google's major money-making AdWords business.

While Google is actively working on fulfilling business pages demand, it is picking some of thousands of applicant companies to test out business pages on Google+ before the tech giant rolls out on a wide scale.

"We're going to take a small group of brands, businesses and other entities and create profiles for them and see how users interact with them via circles, through the stream and even how they communicate with them through Hangouts [Google+ group video chat]," Ostelien said.

The consensus among most analysts is that Google+ will indeed help the search company make more advertising money, but even it won't capture the social crown from Facebook.

Google Shaking Its Google+ Moneymaker

Altimeter Group Founder Charlene Li told eWEEK that Circles, the manual social graph creation tool, and Sparks, the interest group feature, provide significant ad targeting tools for Google's advertising base.

"They don't have to "win" over Facebook; they simply have to have better quality engagement to command higher advertising rates," Li said. "Blows Facebook hypertargeting away."

IDC analyst Karsten Weide said Facebook remains the best platform with which to create a marketing dialogue between businesses and consumers, where any ad shown to a user is shown to their connections across a network of over 750 million users.

"This is what Google is trying to replicate, and must replicate to be successful in display advertising," Weide said. "Social networking functionality attracts more users, makes them return more often, open more pages and spend more time on a given service."

In ad business parlance, social creates more audience reach, more inventory, more engagement and better targeting, all of which translates into greater advertising revenue, he added.

Weide said Google's great brand and distribution-there are 1 billion searchers and hundreds of millions of users of other Google Web services-will help Google in this respect. Google could bolster + by adding tools that let developers run applications on Google+, similar to Facebook Platform.

Another trend in Google+'s favor may be the Facebook fatigue factor: Consumers may be tiring of only one major social-network distribution platform. And the advertisers want to be where the people are.

"What might help Plus is that there seems to be growing disenchantment among users, both with Facebook's utility and its penchant to force them to openness," Weide wrote. "Facebook's de facto SNS monopoly is potentially bad for consumers and bad for the industry." 

Page is certainly confident in Google+'s money-making potential, noting on the Q2 call that the company has "tons of experience monetizing successful products over time. Well-run technology businesses with tremendous consumer usage make a lot of money over the long term."

Advertisers and financial investors keenly watching Google's rising costs certainly hope so.


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