The reigning search titleholder has recently taken a few shots at other online title belts. Google Buzz and customized Gmail profiles were Google’s first step toward full social integration to compliment its arsenal of search and email.
Google’s newly launched “+1” initiative is its latest attempt to shoot up the ranks for the long anticipated and inevitable showdown between Google and Facebook. Despite Google’s seemingly omnipresent standing in the cloud, many look at the “+1” initiative as a mere tip-toe around the ring. Those in the know understand the majority of the public is in for a real rope-a-dope.
The version of “+1” Google decided to roll out to the public is a small button that will sit aside every Google search result and ad that is produced. If a user clicks the “+1” button it gets shared with their social network via Buzz, reader, or their respective Google profile.
As is always true, it’s not what the fighter looks like that determines the outcome of the bout. Even though the “+1” seems like a small and obscure step into competition with the “likes” and “retweets” of the world, Google is actually using the data collected via “+1” to further solidify their search algorithm and provide better search results, more narrowly tailored to each user (SEO folks better take notice).
Who wouldn’t want to see how many immediate friends or other Google search users actually thought a search result or ad was interesting and useful. It’s a built in review system, tied to your friends and across the web. It’s an attempt at social networking with a purpose.
So here we are, the data king and the social king on a collision course. Facebook moving toward search via channels, like their newly incorporated “Sponsored Stories” and ever-growing ad platform, and Google, heading increasingly social.
Google knows Facebook is after it’s ad revenue and has decided to take a stand. Google however, may be better conditioned to go the distance. “+1” data will eventually benefit all users, not just those with a Google profile. Google sees the “+1” ad data influencing search results throughout the cloud.
As for advertisers, nothing changes, at least in the near term. “+1” results are collected just as any other analytics data. Down the line, if “+1” becomes as useful as Google believes it will be, advertisers will have an immense amount of data regarding how to optimally design and develop websites and advertisements that satisfy the consumer. It’s a unique perspective to take, that’s for sure. Advertisers will no longer be able to saturate a user with a particular ad or pay for featured placement until the link is clicked. Instead, advertisers and developers will be forced to think about the consumers’ needs and wants, first and foremost. It almost makes too much sense.
Something tells this writer we are only in the early rounds of this showdown. There are likely to be a few staggering shots from both sides ahead. Who will prevail is something only time will tell.