Shared Endorsements is a new feature initiated by Google AdWords that pull reviews and photos from Google+ business profiles. These reviews and user images are served alongside Google ads to offer more support and proof for the company that’s advertising. The trouble is that many business owners and business reviewers are unaware of this, and due to the fact that it has been done without the request for consent from business owners or consumers, it has sparked some heated conversation about the pros and cons of purchased ads and reviews being served in tandem.
It’s no secret that Google has been going through some drastic changes.To list them 1 by 1 would lead down a technical rabbit hole. However, “giving users more power and more relevant results” is an accurate way to describe the intent behind most of these changes. It happens so often that you are undoubtedly getting updated “terms of service” notices from Google as you read this….
This time, with Shared Endorsements, users are getting even more powerful search results. But at what cost?
The premise of Shared Endorsements is to provide consumers with more reliable feedback to help with the purchase making process. Let’s take a look at the standard “decision making process” to see where the benefits to this new search feature are.
Consumer: Has a need and turns to Google to search for the answer. He finds a few options and compares them. Depending on the location , convenience, cost, and reputation of the companies or brands that he finds, he will make his decision.
The consumer in this case strongly benefits from real reviews from legitimate people. Their decision is made much easier knowing that they have found a trustworthy/fast/affordable company.
The advertiser: Needs to showcase their product/service. They purchases ad space with Google to be in front of relevant consumers. They have a great product/service, and leave their customers happy. A strong Google review could be the tipping point for the consumer to try them out for the first time.
There is no doubt that the advertiser with stronger online reviews benefits from stronger sales conversions.
Providing a platform to make sales conversions stronger will most definitely keep advertisers coming back.
However, where does this leave the Google+ user? Certainly leaving a review that includes your Google+ profile pic is intended to be public domain. Why would you post something about a company if you had no intention of someone ever reading it? This is not the problem people have with this. The bigger issue is that their faces are being used to publicly advertise for companies. These ads get seen by at least 10 times more users than a normal corporate Google+ page. In addition to that, having your photo and your message featured in a paid advertisment looks like a much more drastic affiliation with a business than a simple wall post. This has many consumers upset that their reviews have been placed in ads without their permission.
In addition, is it okay for Google and 3rd party companies to financially gain from the reviews you leave? Will there be profit sharing involved for Google+ Users who contribute to advertiser’s sales and Google stock value? Not likely.
Advertisers do have the opportunity to Opt out (contact us for a walk-through to show you how) if they know that this is even happening, so it’s entirely up to them. Perhaps this is morally polarizing, but the power lies with the individual. If you want to share your experiences, help people make better decisions, and help companies grow; keep reviewing. Shared Endorsements works on a star system so only good reviews will be pulled to be displayed with your ads. However, if as a consumer you prefer that your thoughts and photos are not broadcasted, then you have every right not to participate.
**Photo Credit: http://www.oxfamblogs.org**