Google Plus (Google+), the social enterprise network, it’s like a ghost town. Do you want to see a fellow baby or publish If you’re on vacation? Most likely, however, use Facebook. But Google is not worried. It may be that Google Plus is not a great competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is essential for the future of Google, a lens that allows the company to look closely, and more broadly, the digital lives, and pick increasingly rich personal information that advertisers covet treasure. Some analysts even say that Google understands more about the social activity of people Facebook.
The reason is that once a user is logged into Google+, it becomes his account for all Google products, from Gmail to YouTube and maps, so Google sees what cases and what you do through services, even if you never come back to the social network itself. Plus Before launch, the company could not know you were the same person who performed the searches, watched videos and used maps. With a single account, the company can build a database of its affinities. Google says its service has 540 million monthly active users, but almost half do not check the social network.
“Google+ gives you the opportunity to be yourself, and gives Google the common understanding than you are”, said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management for Google Plus.
It is now so important to Google that the company requires users to register to use some of the Google services such as YouTube comment. The move is so hard that has alienated some users and has also led to concerns related to privacy and antitrust, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, linked bonuses of employees across the company to its success and named Vic Gundotra, a senior executive of Google, to lead the campaign.
The value of Google+ has only increased in the last year as search advertising, which is the main source of profit for Google, has slowed. At the same time, advertising is based on the type of information you see from what people are talking about, do and share online, rather than simply what they want, has become more important.
Brand advertisers oriented and based on assumptions about broad categories such as sport women looking ads. However, ads can be even more specific when web companies know more about their users; for example, a fan of women’s soccer in particular is also a mother who likes thrillers and wants to buy a house.
“The database of affinities could be the holy grail for achieving more effective advertising brands”, said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester, who studies social networking and marketing. Google says the information it obtains about people through Google+ will help create better products, such as sending traffic updates to cell phones or whether a search for “Hillary” refers to a family member or former Secretary of State, and best yet.
“These appear on Google and have a consistent experience across products to make you feel like a product, which makes your experience with all Google products are better”, Horowitz said.
Thanks to Plus, Google knows about friendships of people in Gmail, the places you go on maps and how they spend their time in more than two million websites on the Google advertising network. And gather this information even though relatively few people use Google+ as their social network. So, it has 29 million unique monthly visitors on its site and with 41 million users on smartphones, with some users that overlap, compared to the 128 million Facebook users on its website and the 108 million cell According to data provided by Nielsen.
The company has also put pressure on brands to join Google+, providing a powerful incentive for change: the privileged placement, on the right side of the search results, photographs and promotional messages.
“It’s literally the kind of promotion that money can not buy”, Elliott said. “It’s something that Google could generate billions of dollars if sold this space tomorrow, and they are giving away to try to get people to join the social platform”.
Starbucks, for example, has three million followers on Google+, very little compared to its 36 million followers on Facebook. However, updates its Google Plus page for the purpose of obtaining a good position in the search, and take the advice of representatives from Google on how to optimize content for Plus search engine.
“When we think of publishing something on Google Plus, think of how it relates to our search efforts”, said Alex Wheeler, vice president of global digital marketing for Starbucks.
The Economist has more followers on Google+ than Facebook (six million and three million respectively) and their journalists use Plus features like Hangouts. However, Chandra Magee, senior director of audience development for The Economist, emphasized the value of Plus as a tool for search engine optimization.
“There is a potential there to help us get a new audience”, he said. “But it also helps with our strategy of search engine optimization (SEO, for its acronym in English) for our publications on Google Plus actually appear in the results of search engines”.
The way Google links its search engine, which dominates the market with a less popular product in Plus has sparked antitrust concerns. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has raised the issue during its recent antitrust investigation of Google, according to two people familiar with the matter. That investigation was closed without a finding of misconduct.
“If you search Google, you are going to push with Google+, so the consumer is forced to take a product that does not want to get the product which it does”, said Tim Wu, a professor at the Faculty of Law of Columbia University, who studies the Internet and antitrust laws.
“This raises important questions under antitrust law,” he said. “It reminds me a little of Microsoft, when Microsoft feared Netscape and decided to do everything possible to link Internet Explorer with its operating system”.
Google declined to comment on this topic.
Some Google users are annoyed by the pressure of registering in Plus. Melissa Bright, one business analyst in Houston, stopped using certain products because they wanted to join the social network.
“It just seems very intrusive and it is easy to find that you accidentally sent to her at all times”, he said.
After YouTube began requiring membership to comment on YouTube videos, one of the founders of YouTube, Jawed Karim, eliminated much of their own. And the creator of most popular YouTube video, known by the username PewDiePie temporarily closed the comments on their videos.
Commenting on the reactions of consumers to Google Plus integrations, Horowitz of Google said: “We are so in tune with what people say we like what he does”.And, despite what some members have said, few have fled, a sign, perhaps, of the great power of Google anywhere.
“If people want to use your platform enough”, Elliott said, “You can get away with it”.