‘What does Google Plus mean for your business?’ asks Jamie Riddell

LAST month Google made some major changes to its privacy policy. In essence Google’s change was to create one privacy policy that covered every aspect of their online portfolio from Google Search to YouTube, GMail and Blogger. Previously there was a different policy for each site.

But what does this mean for business use of Google and how their Facebook rival Google+ (Google Plus)could stand to benefit from this change.

Well the centralisation of privacy policy also meant the centralisation of consumer data. Historically if you had one Google account (e.g. your Gmail account) and used to log in and watch videos on YouTube or read your emails, Google counted these as two separate ‘identities’. As Google uses these channels to deliver targeted ads, you would have seen one set of ads based on what you were watching and another set based on what you were reading.

With the new combined policies, Google can learn more about ‘you’, combining what you read with what you watch to deliver a more targeted ad. So, for example if you were discussing used cars on email, and you had been watching Top Gear videos on YouTube, Google could potentially deliver a more personalised ad, based on your larger profile.

This personalisation is important for Google as it has the potential to drive up greater yield for their vast advertising network i.e. more income from selling the same ads. It is also important for any business generating traffic and sales from Google ads or Google search. The importance stems from the relevance which has the potential to improve the targeting to deliver better more efficient adverts and campaigns.

Which brings us to Google+. In case you are not aware of it, Google+ was touted as the potential ‘Facebook Killer’ as it is Google’s social network on which you can post updates, connect with others and ‘hangout’ on video chats. Since its launch last year, Google+ has achieved a useful size, over 90 million users but not a patch on Facebook’s 900 million, and dogged with questions over its success.

For business, Google+ is much more than just a Facebook Fan Page rival. Google+ is being stitched into every part of the Google network, which is why the privacy policies needed to be changed.

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If you scroll to the bottom of any Google search results and you will see an option to ask your friends on Google+. On many sites you will now see the +1 button alongside the Facebook Like and ‘Tweet this’ buttons. On YouTube you will be given the option to watch the video with your friends on a ‘Hangout’.

All of these elements are important for Google as it runs to keep up with the social knowledge of Facebook. This knowledge is the crucial gap between Google finding a page answering your search result and actually understanding what you want. It is very successful at the former, poor at the latter.

The growth of Facebook has seen the social giant start to learn more about their users. Unlike Google they learnt about what users liked, shared and responded to, they understood users age, gender and interests - data far more valuable than simply what the consumers were searching for. The latest set of Facebook updates also include more definitions of interest - ‘listening to’ , ‘reading’ , ‘watching’ which helps understand the context of content and relationship of consumers.

With Plus, Google it aims to do the same, by connecting the disparate elements of its network to understand more about the consumer, what they search for, like, listen to, watch and share.

Google will continue to grow, its Google Plus service will continue to integrate into the Google ‘as we know it.’ The ultimate question for Google is how it will succeed, not if it will succeed.

Read on to see now to see how Google+ could benefit your business today.

: : Jamie Riddell is chief executive of Suffolk-based Digital Tomorrow Today, a future looking digital marketing consultancy. Jamie publishes a Directors’ Briefing to monthly premium subscribers covering the latest digital trends and how businesses can harness them today.