Google’s new vice president of photos and streams, Bradley Horowitz, is to lead the products, which he announced in a company blog post yesterday (3 March).
Horowitz says: “It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.”
Figures from Statista show that Google + has over 300 million users, overtaking social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr in active users. However, this can be mainly attributed to the fact that users are usually logging in to the platform to check their emails – which are tied to the product.
Jan Rezab CEO and co-founder of Socialbakers told Marketing Week that splitting up and revolutionizing Google + is the only sensible move to salvage the value in it.
Rezab adds that Google should have been much more aggressive about owning a social network where users connect and engage, as it has failed so far in its mission to do so.
While Google’s ability to engage consumers on Google + has been questioned since its conception in 2011, brands have been able to achieve results through the platform.
A Forrester report published in March 2014, warned marketers that dismissing Google + as a form of engagement with consumers would be a mistake. The report explains the same amount of surveyed adults said they use the platform once as month as they do LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram. On average, top brands collected 90% as many fans on Google + as on Twitter.
During the Mobile World Congress yesterday (3 March) Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of chrome and apps at Google, said that the company has seen a real value in the photo section of the service and so it will put on focus on that as an individual product. Other services that will be separated include Google Hangouts.
Brands that have been successful on the platform have been more likely to use the features currently in focus. Cadbury and H&M have 1 and 5 million followers respectively on the platform. Both frequently update the photo section of the platform and have used Google Hangouts to engage with consumers.
Andy Pringle, head of performance media at Performics (a part of the ZenithOptimedia Group), says: “It may be perhaps too early to tell what the move means for brands. So far the larger, more dynamic, brands have set up pages where content commonly mirrors their website, Facebook and Twitter feeds. From there they can then run display ads across the Google network, using the page as a launch point.
“Splitting the services out in this way may help brands to more easily re-imagine their established approaches to Facebook and Twitter in new Google + formats, “he adds.
Pringle told Marketing Week as the platform changes, the key development for marketers to understand will be what extra data, targeting and reporting capabilities are available to make the best use of the platform in promoting their brand.