Home  › Marketing › Strategies
Google plus logo

Minus Google Plus? Probably Not

  |  May 2, 2014   |  Comments

Google Plus is a great set of technologies and is very well integrated into Google's overall set of services, including YouTube and Gmail, so it shouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

There were big rumors swirling around the online advertising industry this week about the potential demise of Google Plus (G+). It seems that the chief engineer for Google's social network was leaving the company and there were reports that top engineers had been taken off the project and put into other departments around the company.

I definitely have no insider knowledge of what is going on at Google. I read the same reports that everyone else did. But I don't think that Google Plus is really something that could just be turned off and forgotten about. I know that there is a sense that Google Plus is a total ghost town, and you don't really hear people using Google Plus in the way they talk about using Twitter or Instagram, let alone Facebook. No one has ever stalked an ex-girlfriend on Google Plus.

And, I know, Google has a long history of killing off products. Often these were big and ambitious projects, like their Health service or Google Wave, that never really caught on. Google Plus is a little different, though, and while it is very possible that G+ is ready for a new evolution, there are a number of reasons why you should plan on sticking with G+, especially as an advertiser.

First, though, I want to provide a quick h/t for this thread on the Social Media Subreddit. It was the inspiration for this column and a source of some of the data. Worth an upvote!

The first is simple: Google Plus is at the heart of Google's inclusion of social data into its search system. Search and social are increasingly intertwined, as people's actions of sharing are highly analogous to Web pages providing links to sites. Those links are at the heart of how Google figures out what page is most relevant to a search - a link is a vote for relevance. One person sharing a page or an article, or providing their ratings on something, is the same idea, only at a much larger scale, since way more people have social media profiles than control websites. That data needs to be integrated into search and, while there may be some relationships around sharing of data, Facebook has not really shown any willingness to let the engine into their treasure trove of insight.

The other big reason is that Google Plus isn't necessarily as dormant as people may think. Back in October of last year, they reported 540 million active users. Plus a lot of brands have already invested in Google Plus. There is a chance that they did this because of two reasons: 1) why not (there is no cost associated with setting up a Google Plus page) and 2) boost SEO rankings.

But the last reason why I don't think Google Plus will go away is that I think this is their moment. Google Plus has been a bit of a marginal player in the social landscape and everyone knows it. But we also know that this is going to be a year of change for social networks and business. Facebook's algorithm shift and increased focus on providing ad packages is going to be a catalyst for massive change in the industry. Twitter is getting very serious about both aligning with broadcast and providing analytics. Pinterest and LinkedIn and other players are making some strong plays for their particular target audiences.

As we see social networks becoming a more integrated part of the marketing mix, there is a new chance to make an overture to advertisers and a new pitch. If I were in charge of Google Plus, I would be looking to take this opportunity as a moment to reconsider how they are positioned. The person who was at the helm was an engineer and a technology guy. Perhaps they need to appoint someone new into this position - or a small team of people. That team would have engineering as a core part (this is Google, after all). But it should also have an advertising person, someone who has been on the agency side or within a strategic or creative department.

The bottom line is that Google Plus is a great set of technologies and very well integrated into their overall set of services, including YouTube and Gmail. Plus, it is well built into Android, which means that it is in a prime position to take advantage of the mobile revolution. If Google decides to shut down Google Plus, it means that they are walking away from a real integrated vision.

And I just can't see them doing that.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Stein

Gary Stein is SVP, strategy and planning in iCrossing's San Francisco office. He has been working in marketing for more than a decade. Gary lives in San Francisco with his family. Follow him on Twitter: @garyst3in. The opinions expressed in Gary's columns are his alone.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

Resources

Jobs

    • SEO Specialist
      SEO Specialist (HeBS Digital) - NEW YORK                             ...
    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...