Google+: Upping the Ante
09/26/2011 By Lisa Becker In Digital Strategy

Like many others, we here at DOOR3 were eagerly awaiting this summer’s release of Google+, Google’s “sharing” application that promised to facilitate online communication.  In the days surrounding its introduction, Google+ was oft anticipated to rival, even replace, social networking juggernaut Facebook.  Clearly the latter has not come to fruition, at least not during its 90-day invitation-only trial.  In fact it hasn’t even come close: Facebook claimed 750 million active users last month compared to a mere 25 million active users claimed by Google+.  However, with last week’s opening to the general public and its introduction of several new upgrades, Google+ is proving it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

+1’s for Google+

Most notable for those in the digital marketing space, this author included, is the addition of +1 on the Google Display Network.  AdWords display ads will now feature a +1 button and personal annotations with ads, enabling social ad campaigns across the millions of sites on the Google Display Network spanning over 40 countries.  From an advertiser’s standpoint, the addition of the +1 allows you to take advantage of the number one form of advertising – word of mouth – on a global scale with increased relevancy to your audience.  From a user standpoint, this functionality offers the benefit of making it easier to share your favorite ads with your circles and last but not least, from Google’s standpoint, targeted, more effective advertising drives additional AdWords business.  Not too shabby.

The most anticipated upgrade however was debatably the addition of the Search function to Google+.  Users can now search and find relevant people and posts as well as popular content on the web utilizing the same search technology that made Google a household name to begin with.  The exclusion of the search function in Google+ has baffled users from the start so there is no doubt this functionality will be much appreciated.

Additional upgrades revolve mostly around new functionalities for the Google+ ‘Hangouts’ feature which allows users to set up multi-person live video chatrooms.  With the upgrades, users will now be able to join hangouts from a mobile phone (Android), broadcast hangouts using a feature called ‘Hangouts on Air’ and collaborate with a suite of tools including screensharing, sketchpad, Google Docs and hangout naming.  New Google+ and Hangout APIs will also engage developers and allow them to build their own experiences and real-time applications integrating with Hangouts.  As the most powerful USP of Google+ to date, continually upgrading Hangouts and making it easier to use will likely be key to the project’s future success.

What’s Next for Google+?

Since the opening of the trial period roughly 100 days ago, Google has already introduced 100+ upgrades for Google+ and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.    While Google+ has clearly not been a “Facebook killer” as once hypothesized, it is the opinion of this author that wider usage will proliferate in time as it becomes increasingly relevant for users.  As of now it may be wise to put the future success of Google+ into the “wait and see” category.  Regardless it should be interesting to see how the upgrades highlighted here as well as future upgrades impact (or don’t) the user base.  

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