Google +1 Button Coming to Web, Mobile Display Ads

Google Display Network advertisers will soon see the Google +1 button added to their web and mobile display ads. User photos and recommendations will now appear on the ads themselves; we’ve seen them on search results since earlier this summer.

Google plans to roll out the new feature in early October and will be releasing more information for users in the coming weeks.

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What we know now is that +1s will appear at the bottom of display ads, showing users the profile photos of friends who have endorsed the ad. In the interest of privacy protection, only the additional number of other users who +1 the ad will show; you will not see images or names of people outside of your network. The +1 notifications will fade away after 10 seconds.

As it stands, the addition of the +1 button to display ads will be the default setting; advertisers can opt out by signing into their AdWords account.

The +1 button will work on the following types of ads:

  • Image
  • Animated GIF
  • Flash
  • Display Ad Builder ads
  • Select mobile inventory
  • DoubleClick Rich Media ads, on or off the Google Display Network

The display ad +1s will be integrated with search ads, search results, and websites, so that a single +1 will show on that content, regardless of where it is posted. What is unclear is how this could affect the longevity of ad campaigns and reliability of +1s as endorsements. Do +1s transfer to other ads for the same product, or to other products within a product line?

Since spammers game new Google features pretty much the second they’re released, another concern is whether +1s stick if an ad is completely modified. This could allow advertisers to change the product or service offered, with endorsements for an earlier product displayed on the new one.

“The +1 button, whether on search results, search ads, publisher content, or display ads, works at a URL level, and thus annotations show when that URL is used,” Google’s Jim Prosser explained to Search Engine Watch. “In the case of a GDN ad, the annotations are determined by what landing page the creative points to rather than the creative itself.”

We asked Google: if the content on that URL changed, are advertisers able to modify the ad to reflect new content, or if there was a limit, either a time limit or a percentage of modification allowed, to prevent users from manipulating the +1 in ads system by transferring endorsements to other products this way? Prosser would only repeat the initial explanation, reiterating that, “Again, it's tied to the landing page URL. Any ad that points to that URL can surface that annotation.”

This social component mirrors Facebook Sponsored Stories feature, but adds far more reach for marketers. A Nielsen study last year found that purchase intent increased four-fold when Facebook users were exposed to ads endorsed by friends.