I wrote a post yesterday on the Latitude Digital Marketing blog about the introduction of Google+, in which I touched on some of the exciting features that Google are bringing to the market. Following on from the relatively disappointing Buzz, which appears to have gone much the same way as Jaiku, and Google Wave, which is like an answer to a question no-one asked, Google may well have struck gold with their new product.
I loved the idea of Google Circles when news about it first started to leak out earlier this year, and I think that the idea of being able to group people by interest to ensure that you can have the right people influencing your search results is incredibly useful.
We hear about pivots all the time, tech companies that are not seeing the success that their investors want will frequently move away from their core interests into an area that they see as being a growth opportunity for them, but Google+ is much bigger. The magnitude of change that Google+ represents is incredible, Google are not an unsuccessful start-up, they are one of the most successful businesses in the world today, a company that delivers billions in revenue, and makes huge profits.
However, Google needed to change. As a business they face a major problem: Every new advertising channel requires budget to be assigned to it. Facebook is growing phenomenally quickly, and marketing spend is being channelled into that area. Google have chosen not to ignore the fact that last year the advertising spend on Facebook was about $1.9 billion, and that this year it is forecast to hit $4 billion. That budget needs to come from somewhere. The big sell for advertisers on Facebook is the ability to target the “right” people based on their desired customer demographic profile. If you only sell to 33 year old women who are interested in riding horses, who work in finance in London, and live in Surrey, you can. That’s powerful.
Google have demographic advertising, but it’s not as targeted, with the volume of personal data that they can aggregate based on who you are in circles with, and how you are defined by those circles, it will be possible to determine huge amounts of demographic information that can then be used to provide incredibly accurate personalised advertising.
Historically Google’s biggest strength has been a massive weakness for it too. The more relevant the search results they provide, the less likely the user is to need to return to their results page, and the more likely the user is not to click on multiple adverts in a single session.
By adding the group chat service Huddle, and the Hangout for consuming content socially, Google regain that stickiness that will allow them to present mutiple adverts to users.
Finally, and here’s the SEO-ey bit, personalised results based on the interests of an explicit social circle mean that general links from relatively unpopular 3rd party websites are going to become devalued if those sites are not frequented by other people in your social circle.