Social Signals in PPC: Google’s +1 Feature is Getting Better

Back in September I wrote about Google’s integration of social and search with the +1 button. In the time since, there has been plenty to discuss as advertisers learned more about this feature and began incorporating +1 buttons on landing pages.

More importantly, Google has expanded the available +1 features. Now you can show +1 buttons on Display Network ads, you can connect Google+ brand pages to AdWords for shared +1 accumulation and Google is providing +1 annotation reporting.

+1 on Display Network Ads

For a few months now, searchers have seen the +1 button on Search ads when they are logged into their Google account. Now they can see +1 buttons across the AdSense / Display Network when they are browsing the web. Just like with search ads, when you +1 a Display Network ad, your “friends” (based on your Google account) will see an annotation that you have recommended that advertiser/brand.

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What really makes the +1 button unique for Display Network ads is that it can influence how your ads rank. Google sees the +1 recommendation as a strong relevance signal and uses that information accordingly. Once you have +1’d a Display Network ad, Google will then include that ad “in the auction for any page a friend visits.”

Link Google+ Brand Page to AdWords

Earlier this week Google announced the release of brand pages for the Google+. As businesses the world over scrambled to secure their brand page, Google released information on how to link your new brand page with AdWords.

The benefit? Shared +1 activity. Any +1’s that occur on organic, search, or display ads will be reflected in Google+ and vice versa. Google has added a new ad extension called “Social Extensions” that allow the link to take place at the campaign level. Word of warning – the social extension option isn’t yet available in all accounts (including mine).

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+1 Reporting Segmentation

Advertisers now have some reporting transparency into +1 activity. Using the “Segments” drop down menu, you can view +1 annotation activity at the campaign, ad group, or keyword level.

How is this helpful? You can see your impressions broken down as follows:

  • Impressions with personal annotations (these are where the annotations stated that a friend or contact +1’d your ad). 
  • Impressions with basic annotations (these simply state an anonymous number of people +1’d your ad). 
  • Impressions without social annotations.

You can actually see if +1 activity is improving your campaign performance!

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What Comes Next?

Now that we have all these great features, what comes next? Here are my thoughts on what’s coming:

  • Advertisers will become more engaged and make changes to boost +1s from their landing pages to bolster a performance lift from +1 annotations. 
  • Engagement with +1 will increase as searchers and Google products users continue to become more comfortable with this new activity. 
  • Google will fix the domain vs. landing page +1 allocation (I’ve heard this on good authority), thus increasing the overall +1 numbers on your ads. 
  • Google will try to push the search and social integration harder and make this stick permanently. What does +1 look like in 6 months? One year? I don’t know, but it will be there and advertisers will need to be on top of their game to make it work!