Google is trying to out-Facebook Facebook, using the power of the SERP and Display Network advertising.
If you've added Google +1 icons to your pages to - as Google puts it - "help your site stand out," you're doing Google a big favor. By helping those of your current site visitors who haven't yet engaged in "plussing" behavior to start doing so, you're helping build Google's position as more than a search engine (i.e., a social media platform).
With Google+ and +1, Google is trying to out-Facebook Facebook, using the power of the SERP and Display Network advertising to convince us (the advertisers) to do the social media user expansion work for them. Amazingly, it will probably work, because Google gives us something back when we give Google the opportunity to offer our site visitors plus functionality. When someone "plusses" a page on our site, both our ads and our organic results will be enhanced for those specific, socially connected searches where our site would be a fit.
Recently this plus-personalization has spread beyond the SERP to include any graphical advertising we run on the Google Display Network. Users can now "plus one" display advertising.
Facebook got it right with the "Sponsored Stories" option, which further incentivized businesses to advertise their Facebook pages, doing much of Facebook's marketing for it. How many billions of ad impressions do you think are out there with a Facebook call to action? So many that it's nearly impossible to quantify. Every Sirius/XM station, most broadcast stations, newspapers, magazines, major brands, and even the local diner down the street all are looking for "likes" and thereby providing billions of dollars of free advertising to Facebook. Heck, a traffic ticket lawyer even offered me a $25 discount if I "liked" him prior to engaging him to contest a cellphone ticket I got while driving.
All of this makes perfect sense for Facebook. After all, once a business has convinced a customer or prospect to "like" their page, the advertiser can then use Sponsored Stories advertising to get onto the user's page, even if the advertiser's EdgeRank isn't powerful enough to propel their page updates into the view of the "liker." Plus, if the "liker" now engages with your brand presence on Facebook via a checking or other activity, you now have access to that person's friends, who can see a Sponsored Stories ad, which includes that person's brand-related activity.
Google+ and Facebook Sponsored Stories both increase the yield and perceived relevance of advertising. Let's look at the kinds of advertisers who may benefit most from Google+ and Facebook Sponsored Stories.
Google plussing behavior hasn't reached the tipping point yet in terms of causing the average searcher to see lots of +1s in their SERP. However, if heavy Google searchers also happen to be those with larger active social networks, then it may not take long before the +1s have a material impact on your campaigns. Perhaps you should start looking at your +1 and "like" strategies today.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
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September 23, 2014