Google seeks social success

4 January 2013

NEW YORK: Google, the online giant, is taking a more integrated approach across its portfolio of websites in a bid to increase the uptake of Google+, the firm's social network.

Web users creating accounts on Gmail, the email service, YouTube, the video-sharing site, and other Google properties like Zagat, a restaurant review platform, are now being set up with Google+ pages.

Consumers wanting to leave reviews of restaurants, stores and other companies on Google sites have also been required to use Google+ profiles since last autumn, something the company says enhances reliability as it includes the author's real name.

Similar rules have come into force for smartphone apps and products purchased through platforms like Google Play, its virtual store for a range of goods and content.

This means users of Google's platforms are able to read the comments made by their online friends, which is regarded as a key currency in the social media space.

Bradley Horowitz, a vice president at Google, told the Wall Street Journal that the company planned to take an increasingly nuanced in this area of its operations.

"Google+ is Google," he said. "The entry points to Google+ are many, and the integrations are more every day."

In reflection of this process, Google's search engine also features links to Google+ content when members of the social site are signed in to their account and enter enquiries.

Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, and who heads up Google+, stated that any in-house concerns about such strategies had declined as understanding of the service increased. "There was more resistance two years ago," he said.

One goal behind these moves is ultimately the chance to offer greater targeting capabilities to advertisers, although Google doesn't share data covering individual users with marketers.

Figures from comScore, the research group, suggested that Google+ had 28.7m visitors from PCs in October 2012, compared with 149m for Facebook, the category leader.

Google also reported in December that 235m people had used certain Google+ features, like clicking the "+1" tool to recommend a website, over all its sites, versus 150m in June 2012.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff