Google ads to feature users’ photos

Google has updated its terms of service meaning Google account holders’ images will soon appear in ad formats promoting products and services to their friends.


The updates mean a Google account holder entering a search term into its search engine could see results including the name, profile picture and any related information, such as an online review from one of their Google contacts (see picture).

These ad formats may also appear in other services such as Google Maps or Play.

A blog post detailing the changes reads: “For example, if you search for ‘Italian restaurants,’ you might see an ad for a nearby restaurant along with your friend’s favorable[sic]  review.

The online services giant announced the changes late last week (11 October), they are scheduled to go live on 11 November, with Google dubbing the new ad formats ‘Shared Endorsements’.

Google account holders will be able to control exactly what aspects of their profile information will appear in any Shared Endorsements by opting-out in their settings page.

However, this has not prevented protests from multiple parties, including US Senator Edward Markey who wrote to US competition authority the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) saying the change in policies: “raises a number of important questions about whether Google is altering its privacy policy in a manner inconsistent with its consent agreement with the Commission”.

Google has been making serious efforts to edge further into the social sector by convincing advertisers that its ad formats have a similar word-of-mouth (WOM) effect to the ad formats offered by Facebook and Twitter.

This included the recent deep integration of the Google+ service into its core search proposition, as well as video-sharing site YouTube.

This included the incorporation of hash tags into its search engine, so users will be served with relevant results that have been shared via its Google+ platform in the US. For instance, a Google search for the hashtag ‘#Marketing’, can produce a set of relevant Google+ posts that can appear to the right of the regular search results.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Google also announced it was more deeply integrating Google+ with its YouTube platform meaning YouTube viewers are served with more immediately served with “relevant” comments.

Speaking earlier this month at Social Media Week, London, Matt Bush, Google’s head of agency, acknowledged the user interface of of its social offering Google+ needed improvement.

However, he also told audiences that user numbers were sharply on the rise, and to soon expect an official user number that would “blow your mind”.

He added: “What brands can do with Google+ is help users find that information at that time, and achieving engagement. It’s about trying to be there during the moments that matter.”

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