Another week, another new gimmick from our friends at Google. This time, it’s something called the Google +1 Button, which is kind of like the Facebook “Like” button, only more Googley. Now, your friends can click on a +1 button on one of their search results (including paid search ads), to show that they recommend that particular search result or page to others in their social network.
This added feature is part of a trend that indicates search marketing is about to get a lot more interesting. For years, Google’s organic and paid search results have been ranked quantitatively through algorithms, keyword bids, and quality ratings. There has been little need for a human element in the rankings. Now, Facebook, Yelp, and other social sites are becoming powerful forces in information gathering. We’re also seeing a user backlash against sites that are gaming the quantitative system to get undeserved rankings – just look at the recent Google algorithm update that put the kibosh on content farms for evidence of that. Google is realizing that if they want to continue to dominate search, they need to have actual humans providing quality feedback on sites. Hiring Google employees to do the job would be such a monumental and costly task that it would be unfeasible. So, they’re crowdsourcing the task by implementing the +1 button.
Now that that tangent is out of the way, let’s talk about how this is going to affect your AdWords account. Unless you count viral video ads, there hasn’t been an easy way for search users to share ads that they like. But now, if you can create ads that are worthy of sharing, you might just end up getting some extra impressions for your buck. Plus, there’s the added bonus of having a word-of-mouth endorsement to go along with your ad. As any seasoned marketer knows, word-of-mouth is the cheapest and most effective form of marketing there is. If you saw your buddy’s name endorsing a PPC ad, wouldn’t you be a little more likely to listen to what it had to say?
Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and change 100% of our active ads to pander to the +1 button. But, it might be an interesting experiment to try and create ads that are funny, creative, or have some extra special offers in order to encourage ad viewers to share. But, at this point in time I don’t see any information on Google regarding whether or not you’ll be able to see your +1 “likes” in either your Google AdWords or Google Analytics reports. I expect that if this thing catches on, Google is sure to add that kind of reporting in the future. But for now, just be aware that you might not be able to get any reliable data on any +1 related ad experiments you’d like to try.