"Humbled" by brand interest, Google+ apologizes for inconsistent enforcement.
Google+ has accelerated the timeline for brand profiles somewhat, promising to roll out rudimentary business accounts by late fall.
Christian Oestlien, product manager in charge of ads for the social media platform, noted late yesterday in a Google+ blog post, "We have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers."
Among the interim survivors is Ford Motor Company, which was one of the very first brands to test Google+. Its profile is now emblazoned with a pink badge saying "Test Account."
In Oestlien's frequent updates and comments to the ad community, he frequently uses the word "humbled" to describe his team's response to rabid brand interest in the product. But one wonders if he really means "exasperated," or maybe "overwhelmed."
The past three days have brought spiraling complaints about Google's unevenly applied ban on branded accounts. More than a week after it told businesses and other organizations to either shut down their accounts or have them shut down, many of the highest profile accounts still hadn't been deleted as of yesterday morning. These included most notably Mashable News and Ford Motor Company, two of the earliest non-human entities on Google+.
That Google had spared Mashable the rod particularly stuck in the craw of some journalists working for media outlets that had complied with Google's edict or had their accounts involuntarily yanked.
Boing Boing blogger Xeni Jardin was among them. Early this week, she posted to Google+ "Seriously, google friends: Why is +Mashable News still chillin' with 100K followers while other 'non-humans' have either proactively refrained, proactively closed their accounts, or been shut down? I get that you're kind of overwhelmed with the response, but this is making a lot of people who are otherwise enthusiastic about your new product feel bad."
A lengthy, snarky debate then played out in the comments underneath Jardin's post and others like it. A sample remark, from Zach Behrens of public broadcast station KCET-TV, "I would definitely like some clarification. At the news non-profit I work at, we are listening to Google and waiting for approval, but it's disheartening to see others break Google's request and seem to be reaping the rewards."
Mashable's exemption turned out to be short-lived. As of this morning the account had been renamed for its founder, Peter Cashmore, who inherited the 100,000-plus followers. For a publisher whose brand is so closely married to that of its founder, the site's outcome is happier than what many other Google+ brands have enjoyed.
It's a fact not lost on some marketers. In a comment on Oestlien's post, Reuters social media editor Anthony de Rosa wrote, "Had others known they could break the rules and then convert to a personal account without having it deleted, they would have done the same. You're essentially rewarding breaking the terms of service."
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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