Toyota was one of the first companies to be offered a chance to test Google+ post advertising
Online marketing has always been divided into two basic schools: social media/content marketing and pay per click (ppc) or pay per view advertising. And while there was some crossover through direct advertising on Facebook or other social media platforms or buying ads to drive traffic to online content, for the most part the two practices remained separate. Each technique required differing strategies. Social media marketing is driven by the content you produce and the conversations that grow around that content while purchased ads usually required catchy headlines or graphics which encouraged the target to click through to a larger landing page.
Likewise, social media marketing has always been somewhat segmented by the differing social media platforms. Facebook content is limited to for the most part to the Facebook news stream. Twitter links may lead to other mediums such as a blog post but for the most part, the interaction takes place directly on Twitter.
Google’s announcement that it will soon be possible to place posts from a G+ stream as an advertisement across the Google advertising network completely breaks down platform barriers, integrates both social media marketing and ppc advertising and has the potential to radically change the world of online marketing.
Google+ vs. Facebook Advertising; Two Very Different Approaches
Although it’s been fairly obvious for some time now, last week Facebook officially announced that organic reach for FB pages will continue to be reduced. With around 1,500 given elements competing for your Facebook attention at any given time it’s understandable that Facebook would place a value its limited space. One of the advantages of Facebook advertising is that advertisements can be highly targeted taking advantage of the massive data that Facebook has collected about it’s users. However, Facebook advertisements are limited to the Facebook platform.
Google also allows for highly targeted ads but unlike Facebook, Google has a much larger infrastructure that reaches far outside of the confines of the Google+ network. The Google Display Network includes millions of websites, videos and mobile aps. Up until this point, ads on the Google network basically consisted of text based ads in the search results, banner display ads on third party websites or video advertisements attached to YouTube videos.
With the rollout of Google+ Posts to the ad network, it will be possible to take the social media discussion which takes place on Google+ beyond the confines of the G+ network into the full reach of the Google Display Network.
Breaking Down Social Media Boundries
Stop for a minute and consider the implications of that last statement. This means that social media discussions will no longer be limited to a given social media platform. I could be reading an article in an online magazine, see an advertisement that catches my attention in the sidebar, open the ad and leave a comment, share the advertisement (or discussion) with a friend and return to my magazine article all without leaving the page.
Let’s take it a step further. Say I leave a comment on a Google+ post which I see in the sidebar of an online magazine. Later in the day I’m looking at a blog about my favorite sports team and what do you know, there is the Google+ post I saw earlier in the day only now there is a little notification showing me that someone has responded to my comment. Again without leaving my sports blog, I can open the Google+ post, follow up with a few more comments and return to the blog I was reading.
Even better, say I’m researching ways to solve a particular problems or a product purchase. I find a webpage with a possible answer to my problem or a product review but there sitting in the sidebar is a Google+ post with the exact discussion I am trying to find. Not only that, I can ask questions and interact with the company who posted the information or join the discussion taking place. The display advertisement has become an interactive experience.
But wait, that’s not all.
Let’s say that somebody has created a Google+ Hangout in order to have an in-depth discussion regarding my problem. They could create the Hangout on Google+ then purchase ads on the Google Display Network so that Hangout appears to individuals such as myself who are searching for information related to my problem. Depending on the ad spend, the Hangout could appear on thousands of websites that display Google ads.
You can quickly see the potential.
A New Way of Thinking About Advertising
Over the years banner ads have become the used car salesman of internet marketing. They shout at you from the sidebars (or worse) and too often the reward for clicking through just isn’t there. As a result internet users have reached a point where we have learned to completely block out internet display advertising or our technology does it for us. There was a study a while back which showed that you had a better chance of surviving a plane crash than you did clicking a banner ad.
Now change that banner ad to a discussion taking place among members of your social media stream. Make it an informative social media post answering the question you were searching for in the first place. Suddenly that banner ad takes on an entirely new meaning.
Breaking Down the Barriers of Social Media
You may remember the recent discussions on this blog (and on G+) regarding Google+ embedded posts and comments. What I didn’t realize at the time is that our early experiments with Google+ embedded posts may have been a beta test for Google’s move into G+ posts as display ads.
What was quickly discovered about embedded G+ posts and comments was that the conversation could take place anywhere across the internet, not just on the G+ platform. Traditionally our social media discussions take place on a given social media platform and at some level, we make a conscious effort to participate on the given platform. For example, we go to Facebook to see what is happening in our news feed. We set our mobile devices to notify us of activity on Twitter. Regardless of how we view the discussion the activity ultimately takes place on the given platform. Embedded G+ posts and now display advertising remove the limits of the platform. Social media activity can now take place anywhere a post is embedded. With the full roll out of G+ posts for advertising the discussion can take place on any of the millions of websites that display the Google Advertising Network. This includes mobile.
The extension of G+ posts to display advertising will bring the discussion to the user no matter where they are on the internet.
What it Means to Your Business
The timing of Google’s announcement couldn’t be any better. Just as Facebook publicly announced that the reach of FB pages would be diminishing without paid ads, Google announced the ability to take the reach of G+ posts beyond the G+ platform. And while there has been a great deal of debate over the , participation on G+ should only grow as people discover G+ activity beyond the normal G+ platform.
Success with G+ posts as ads will be the same as success with any social media platform — engaging, thought provoking posts which provide information the target needs and discussions which engage the target audience and beg for interaction will do well. Paid advertising should also allow you to highly target the placement of your posts in order to reach the right audience.
Consider also the new business looking to build a presence on G+ and also gain the authority and search advantages that come with it. Posts could also be tested first on G+ before paying for traction on the wider G+ network.
More than anything, this changes the very nature of both social media marketing and ppc/cpv advertising.
Five Things You Should Be Doing Now To Take Advantage of Google+ Post Advertising
Although Google+ Post advertising is only available in a very limited beta, expect a full roll out soon. Until that time, here are five things you can do to fully take advantage of the opportunity when the roll out is complete.
1) Build Your Google+ Presence!!
I’ve been screaming this for some time now but if you are still not using Google+ it is time to get on board. G+ has hit a point where it is integrated into everything from Google Maps to author authority and then some. If you want to be found in the Google search results, the impact of G+ is too great to ignore. Establishing your presence now and learn the platform so that you are ready to expand beyond it’s boundaries when Google+ post advertising rolls out in full. Fully develop your G+ business page and use it.
2) Experiment With Content
Test the waters of G+ to determine what resonates and what doesn’t. Experiment with content across your social media networks. Look at the content that stimulates discussion and better yet, conversions that come from that content (if you aren’t already).
3) Get to Know Google Adwords
If you aren’t currently using Google Adwords open an account and learn how it works. Google advertising can be a big asset to a marketing strategy when done correctly. However, if done wrong it can quickly become a money pit. Explore keyword research and the bidding process. If you aren’t using Google ads, build some solid landing pages, create a few ads and experiment with a small budget. See what works and what doesn’t.
4) Get in Early
Those who can get in early will be at an advantage when it comes to advertising with Google+ posts. The novelty alone may be enough to stimulate interaction in the beginning. Google Ads work on a bidding process where competition for key words drives up the cost of the advertisement. Early adopters may not immediately see the competition for ad space that will come as users learn the process and hone their advertising skills.
Although Google+ Post ads are only now available in a very limited roll out, businesses can apply for a beta account by clicking here.
5) Develop Your Sales Funnel
Think about how you will move potential clients from conversation on G+ to conversions on your website. Do you have content to offer in exchange for contact information? Have you built and tested landing pages for your content? Do you have a strategy for building relationships with potential clients and moving them from your social media contacts to happy customers. If not, develop the strategy now so that you can take full advantage of this coming ability to greatly expand your social networks.
This is an exciting development for anyone who uses social media and content in their marketing. The potential for direct interaction with a brand and the extended reach to new audiences is huge.