Does the Google +1 Button Really Affect PPC?

Okay PPC people, we’ve got to talk about this Google +1 thing. This week, Google announced their newest stage of the +1 button taking over the internet: the +1 button will now appear in your display ads. Frankly, this is getting pretty ridiculous. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever, ever +1 an ad. I mean, I love web advertising as much as any marketing guy, but really? Have you ever seen a PPC ad and just felt like you had to tell all your friends about how awesome it was?

“Hey guys! You have got to see this!”

“What is it?”

“This ad! Look at that keyword-rich headline! The smooth, poetic value proposition and call to action! THE WORLD MUST KNOW!”

Come on. Really.

If anyone out there has ever seen someone +1 an AdWords ad, or has +1′ed an ad your self, I’d love to hear about it. I want to know what you were thinking. I’m not trying to be condescending – I just honestly want to know why you or your customers did it.

Every time Google introduces a new doodad into AdWords ads (reviews, sitelinks, location extensions et al.), you have a new opportunity to stand out from your competitors by including the feature. And to be honest, most of the time you will see a lift in CTR for your ads if you can include something in your ads that your competitors don’t. However, we’re fast approaching a saturation point when it comes to PPC ad features. AdWords works because it is a simple and elegant solution to a complex problem. A user types in a search query for something they want to find, and advertisers have an opportunity to place an informative, non-flashy ad to help answer the user’s query. It’s not an eyesore for users who are already browsing a text-heavy search results page, and it’s highly targeted traffic for advertisers: a win-win. But now, ad content is starting to include a lot of non-text elements – review stars, +1 buttons, and product feeds are just the start.

Will AdWords ads evolve like the Facebook interface, which has (arguably) stayed pretty clean and simple throughout it’s successive iterations? Or will they go the way of MySpace, where vast amounts of user flair and visual noise ruined the user experience and made people leave in droves? Or will my overwrought analogy turn out to be completely off-base? I guess only time will tell.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to Does the Google +1 Button Really Affect PPC?

  1. Matt Kelly says:

    Funny, I read the blog post about +1 being on display ads as well and thought the same thing. The thing I can’t seem to figure out is how we measure any lift due to a +1.

    To your question about who will +1 the ads, probably the advertiser themselves and anyone they employ to attempt to game the system.

    All smoke, no fire in my book but something I’m watching out of the corner of my eye.