This week has seen the launch of Google's new +1 button which has initially been launched in the US but will soon be visible across Google's search pages here in the UK!
The +1 button will appear alongside search results, in both the sponsored and organic listings for signed-in users. It is similar in concept to the hugely popular Facebook 'Like' buttons and will enable users to show their appreciation of a search result by clicking its +1 button.
When searching on Google all of the results a user has previously +1'd will be enhanced, they will be able to see which of their friends +1'd results and even if nobody in their network had done so Google will show them how many users from outside their network +1'd each result. Being able to see which websites friends and other users have recommended could highly influence which website users choose to visit.
Considering 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know (Google, 2011), overtime the +1 button could become a major point of reference when selecting a website from Google search results pages and having a high +1 rating could be very lucrative for brands.
Implications for Adwords advertisers
The +1 button concept sounds like it will be a great benefit to users, but what implications will there be for advertisers? As a paid search consultant, my first concern is the effects the +1 button will have on our clients Adverts. Although +1 buttons have yet to be launched in the UK, at first glance the pros appear to outweigh the cons.
As with other extensions/add-ons we have seen within Adwords recently such as Seller Ratings, Product Extensions and Sitelinks I would expect +1 ratings to enhance adverts and give them a unique selling point over other similar adverts on the page. We often see higher click through rates (CTR) from adverts that display Seller Ratings or use Sitelinks and I would expect to see this trend continue with the +1 button. CTR has a direct effect on quality scores within an account, and therefore the +1 button has the potential to indirectly improve quality scores and ultimately reduce costs!
Although the +1 button sounds like it could potentially benefit Adwords advertisers there are a few concerns. Firstly, users may accidently click the ad instead of the +1 button as they are displayed next to one another, resulting in wasted ad spend. Secondly, it will be harder for small companies/new start-ups to build up a high level of +1 hits and when being displayed alongside major brands they may struggle to stand out and win the click. Finally, the amount of +1 users may be limited considering they must have a Google account, be signed in when searching and have their friends linked to their account for it to be effective - this could result in only a minority of searchers using the +1 buttons.
We will start seeing these +1 buttons in the coming months and only time will tell if they will catch on and be a success but its clear there are potential benefits to both users and advertisers!