Google’s foray into social media will soon take a step further as it introduces its ads endorsed by personal connections.
In the past week, we Google account users must have received emails from the search giant of its revised terms of service which will reflect this new development in advertising, which will soon show photos of our friends next to ads displayed in Google search, YouTube and other Google properties. This new feature will be launched in Nov. 11.
This move is not entirely new; currently, Google+ recommendations appear on search results, local maps and other places. As this practice is widespread in Facebook, users who are exposed to this may not feel too threatened to see Google+ endorsements made by our friends. After all, they’re our friends that is why we trust them. Moreover, our recommendations carry weight on search results that our friends will see the pages we recommend (“+1d” in Google’s term) for relevant queries.
However, The recent scandal on fake reviews sometimes puts review sites in the spotlight for wrong reasons. It’s quite likely that online reviews will never be completely honest. There are people and businesses involved in the marketplace.
Still, Google is keen in pushing this social dimension in advertising because of the path initiated by Facebook generally reaped positive results. Of course, Google will learn and benefit from Facebook’s mistakes like exempting minors that cost the company $20 million in settlement.
If we are not ready to disclose our activities (understood as endorsements by those who see our thumbnail photos and comments), Google provides an avenue to opt-out from this feature. Simply go to Shared Endorsements page in your profile page and uncheck the note that says “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”
However, this will only impact our appearance in ads. For other activities like sharing music in Google Play or writing a review in Google Plus, our identities are still revealed unless we delete these activities, effectively wiping out our digital footprint. Nonetheless, Google still puts a bit of control to its users on how they wish their personal recommendations appear online. For Facebook, everything’s searchable.
Showing our photos next to ads, search results or restaurant reviews may all come as a scary proposition. But to those who wish to promote themselves, it’s their time to shine. Just find a more attractive photo.