19 December, 2014

Google Uses its Social Network to Get Nosy

English: Google+ wordmark
English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Social Network
The Social Network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am just wondering and pondering what would happen if I post this seemingly anti-Google article in a Google-owned blog site. But this was an article published in the open, so while I am having my doubts, I still believe this is a fair game.

Read on...


SAN FRANCISCO – Google Plus, the company’s social network, is like a ghost town. Want to see your old roommate’s baby or post your vacation status? Chances are, you’ll use Facebook instead.

But Google isn’t worried. Google Plus may not be much of a competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is central to Google’s future – a lens that allows the company to peer more broadly into people’s digital life, and to gather an ever-richer trove of the personal information that advertisers covet.

Once you sign up for Plus, it becomes your account for all Google products, so Google sees who you are and what you do across its services, even if you never return to the social network itself.

Google says Plus has 540 million monthly active users, but almost half do not visit the social network.

“Google Plus gives you the opportunity to be yourself, and gives Google that common understanding of who you are,” said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management for Google Plus. “It’s about you showing up at Google and having a consistent experience across products so they feel like one product, and that makes your experiences with every Google product better.”

Plus is now so important to Google that the company requires people to sign to use some Google services, like commenting on YouTube. Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, tied employee bonuses companywide to its success and appointed Vic Gundotra, a senior Google executive, to lead it.

The value of Plus has only increased in the last year, as search advertising. Google’s main source of profits, has slowed.

“The database of affinity could be the holy grail for more effective brand advertising,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester studying social media and marketing.

Need help in achieving clarity of mind?

Google says the information it gains about people through Google Plus helps it create better products – like sending traffic updates to cell-phones or knowing whether a search for “Hillary” refers to a family member or to the former American secretary of state – as well as better ads.

Plus has 29 million unique monthly users on its website and 41 million on smartphones, with some users overlapping, compared with Facebook’s 128 million users on its website and 108 million on phones, according to Nielsen.

The way Google is tying its research its search engine, which dominates the market, with a less popular product in Plus has set off antitrust concerns. The United States Federal Trade Commission raised the issue during its recent antitrust investigation of Google, according to two people briefed on the matter. That investigation closed without a finding of wrongdoing.

Google declined to comment on this issue.

In the meantime, while some Google users have been turned off by the push to sign up for Plus, few have actually fled.

“If people want to use your platform enough,” Mr. Elliott said,” you can get away with quite a lot.”

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, March 22, 2014