Google to Include Member Names, Photos in Advertising

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by Katherine Arline

Google has announced a plan to include user endorsements in advertising within its network. The ad model, called “Shared Endorsements” is similar to techniques already employed by Facebook.

The change means that users’ reviews of material available through the Google Play store– including apps, books, and movies–will be eligible for inclusion in Google advertising.

In addition, users’ “+1” material within the Google+ social network will also become eligible for shared endorsement promotion. “Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation,” Google explained on its website.

Updated terms of service have been posted to the Google website.

Google says the Google+ endorsements will be visible to those within the user’s social circle, in addition to the owners of content that users have reviewed or endorsed. However, a social circle can effectively be public unless the user limits the scope of interaction within the Google+ settings.

The changes add additional content to the “+1” votes Google has already been displaying in Google network ads.

On Nov. 11, Google will begin displaying the enhanced ads on Google services and within search results, as well as on the two million sites that display Google-hosted  advertising.

Users can opt out of the new endorsement scheme on the Shared Endorsements setting page.  “If you turn the setting to ‘off,’ your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play,” Google says.

Shared Endorsements will be turned on by default for adult Google users, but not for users under 18.

Google’s new ad scheme is similar to Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” feature. Sponsored Stories resulted in a $20 million settlement on behalf of users who said they were unaware that they were being used as product sponsors.

Over 500 million users interact with Google Plus each month.


Katherine Arline

Katherine Arline has spent fifteen years in technology as a designer and developer for both startups and Fortune 500 companies. You can follow her on Twitter @katearline .

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