Founded in 2011, Google+ is the standout newbie of the social networking world. Upon entering the market, Google+ immediately faced competitors and industry giants Facebook and Twitter. Within four weeks of its launch, Google+ attracted 25 million unique visitors. This October, the site boasted over 300 million active monthly users. Though this growth isn’t necessarily equivalent to that of Facebook’s, it demonstrated the opportunity for innovation in the realm of social networking.
With each new popular social network comes heavy demand for advertising options. Both Facebook and Twitter allow brands and advertisers to turn posts into native ads that appear on users’ feeds. Now, Google is offering advertising units integrated with Google+—but this social network doesn’t allow formal ads, so how does it work?
Brands can take any photo, video, Hangout or other piece of content they’ve posted publically to Google+ and pay Google to distribute it on its network which is used by over 2 million sites worldwide.
It “lets brands think of the entire web as their social stream,” says Google. Unlike ads on other social media sites which appear solely in the feeds of that network, these Google+ ads will reach the entire web.
These ads are designed to be more interactive than traditional display ads. If users hover their cursors over a Google+ ad, they can engage with it by commenting, joining a Hangout or even conversing with brand representatives. Google asserts that it’s advantageous to run “social” ads outside of the social network, because then brands can serve these ads to consumers when it makes sense.
For example, Toyota, one of the pilot brands for the ad unit, can show its Google+ ads to internet users on auto sites, instead of placing the ads between random posts on a social network. Toyota is constantly taking advantage of new advertising formats. In November, the company partnered with Moontoast to integrate Vine and Instagram content into Facebook ads. Always searching for inventive ways to reach consumers, Toyota has established itself as a fearless leader when it comes to groundbreaking advertising opportunities. The video below focuses on how and why Toyota is serving Google+ ads to consumers.
Google+ product manager Eran Arkin reports that Toyota as well as Ritz and Cadbury (two other companies running Google+ ads) are seeing expansion rates 50% higher than the industry average for rich media ads. Not only will this ad format benefit brands, but it will also help Google drive engagement to its social platform and sell to brands that are seeking innovative ways to utilize Google’s display ad network.
The ability to interact with Google+ content outside of the social network could be a game-changer for Google. According to data from a recent study conducted by the social media tech firm Gigya, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all incite more sharing on their networks than Google+. From July to September, only 3% of all social sharing went to Google+. Hopefully with the introduction of this new ad unit, Google will be able generate widespread engagement with its budding social network.