Google+ has announced that it is testing a new advertising format, called +Post ads, that allows brands to amplify content and create conversations across the web. With the new feature brands can turn their Google+ content into display ads that run across the web. Google says this “lets brands think of the entire web as their social stream.”
Google says the idea behind the ads, which won’t run on Google+ itself, is to display content to people when it’s most relevant. The ads are supposedly more interactive than traditional display ads, as by placing a cursor over them for a couple seconds, a user can leave comments on them, share, joining a hangout or participate in other Googley activities.
Eran Arkin, a product manager at Google, said: “+Post ads will allow advertisers to start conversations right from the ad – consumers can reshare a video, leave a comment or a question for the brand, or even join a live Hangout. These conversations create a valuable community around a brand where people can talk with each other and with the brand itself.”
For example, if you’re in the market for a minivan, you might see a Toyota ad pop up on some car enthusiast site. In that sense, the units behave much like Facebook’s promoted posts. The Google+ ads don’t include recommendations, though — only public posts from Google+ users. A comment from someone in one of your circle won’t jump to the top, like one in Facebook’s Sponsored Stories will do, writes Mashable.
+Post is currently only available to a select group of partners – including: Toyota USA, RITZ crackers and Cadbury UK. Google plans to open up this feature to more advertisers over the next few months.
Social annotations on the ads increase the click-through rate, according to Eran Arkin, who didn’t provide further details. He claims the ads get 50% higher “expansion rates” than average, referring to the frequency with which the reader hovers over an ad for more than two seconds to expand it. Of course, much of that could be attributed to the unit’s novelty.
Google’s vast network of advertising partners, coupled with Google+’s reported active user base of more than 300 million, the firm has enough power in the industry to make these adverts work for them, both as a tool to please advertisers and to increase activity on a social network many have called a “ghost town”.
Since introducing Google+ two years ago, Google has struggled to get its users to adopt the social network in any significant way. Google said in October that more than 540 million users engage with Google+ across all of Google’s properties each month, though the company has been vague about what it means by “engagement.” For a company that tends to dominate just about every vertical it tries its hand at, Google’s Google+ struggles are tough to ignore, says Venture Beat.
While known for search advertising, Google is also No. 1 in display advertising in the United States. Google will earn $3.1 billion from its display ads this year, compared to Facebook’s $2.8 billion, according to eMarketer.