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Google+ Is The “Social Spine” For Consumers As Well As Brands And Advertisers

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Before you start commenting about how much I cover Google+, just hop over to The Next Web (my previous employer), to see the root of it all. I’m a firm believer in Google’s approach to becoming more social, as I’ve watched it happen not only within its products, but also company wide.

Having said that, I do wonder if the destination side of Google+ is “enough” to get a hold of advertisers’ and brands’ attention. I’ve dug quite a bit into and spoken to a few people at Google to get some thoughts on this, and I was actually surprised by how quickly brands have jumped on the social bandwagon at the company.

I spoke with Christian Oestlien, Product Manager at Google, and he shed some light on how things are shaking out as far as how brands using Google’s other various advertising platforms are adapting to the all new shiny and social Google.

Wild And On Fire

One of my first questions to Oestlien was about Google’s acquisition of Wildfire, the advertising platform for all things social. Here’s what he told me:

One of the really interesting things about our business is that we have this AdWords business and a platform product with Double Click. It’s a platform product that people use to manage their campaigns all over the web. We noticed specifically that social was becoming a critical part of that. It seemed like a natural fit to bring in Wildfire, a service that’s deeply embedded into the social landscape.

Yes, that means that along with everything Google does on the advertising side of the house, social is being heavily integrated into all of that. Oestlien says “We now have over a decade of experience with working with the largest brands in the world. We built up an organization that handles some of their past online presence over the years.”

Fiat launched a car during a Google+ Hangout, and chocolate candy companies have increased click-throughs 17 percent since engaging with fans and customers on Google+. Brands are “aggressively” moving towards using Google+ I’m told, and if you check the “Explore” section of Google+, you’ll find that it’s not spin — it’s the truth.

The Next Level Of Social For Advertisers

Having everything integrated in one experience, for consumers or for brands, is the Holy Grail. Google is in a great position to seamlessly take bits and pieces of interactive content and turn them into ads, much like Facebook is doing now in its News Feed. The advantage for Google is that its methods are proven, and advertisers keep coming back.

Oestlien gave me the background that supports this evolution, which makes complete sense:

It’s the first time in 12+ years of our advertising platform that we’re enabling bi-directional conversation between brands and users. Whether it’s the interactions that they have with us on search or hanging out with a business, the whole point of the platform is it should improve everything you do with Google. We have record usage numbers every week. The key point is that this spreading that social DNA over everything they do with Google. All of them have latched onto that very quickly, and Google has made that interaction easier for brands.

While it’s easy to boil this down to an “XXXXX company vs. XXXXXX company” thing, it’s really more about what Google is doing using its existing platforms and practices which makes all of this extremely interesting.

Will Google+ be tossing ads in the stream like other sites? It doesn’t sound like it according to Oestlien: “Take all of that work that advertisers are doing on Google and amplify what they’re doing with social. We’re starting to do some experiments there, in AdWords and the display ad builder tool. We’ll let page owners convert Google+ posts into display ads and let them run across the web in all traditional spots on the web.

The company is doing a ton of engagement tests to hone its product and ad delivery, some of which you may have already seen on Google.com. The key for advertisers and brands is that Google is making everything easier to do by integrating the components that make the most sense, and that’s social and self-serve ads.

As far as Wildfire’s involvement, Oestlien says:

We really like the Wildfire team. They’re really bright and share a common vision and theme. The big thing there is that with all of our other platform products, we’re trying to provide a best-in-class experience that is platform-agnostic.

And yes, brands can manage Facebook pages using the Google-owned Wildfire, but let’s focus on what Google is doing internally, because it’s pretty impressive.

[Chocolate bunny picture credit: Flickr]