Are +Post Ads The Ultimate Advertising Underdog?


In your AdWords account sits a relatively silent but increasingly important weapon in your advertising arsenal. Though there is often chatter about varying digital marketing techniques, +Post ads have managed to stay under the radar, even as larger companies have successfully taken advantage of them. If you’re a small business looking to ramp up your advertising game, +Post ads could be exactly what you need (with a catch – we’ll get to that in a moment). Though +Post ads were introduced in December of 2013 to a select few businesses, on April 2014 the widespread availability of these ads kicked into full gear to advertisers who met certain requirements.

So, where do you start? Google Plus.

I know what you’re thinking: the red-headed stepchild of social networks? The one every marketer uses but few others do? Why would you want to advertise there?

You probably wouldn’t. Though +Post ads originate in Google Plus, they don’t actually display there. So, this social network remains a safe space where ads and everyday content do not mix. These ads do begin as Google Plus posts, but you’re paying for them to appear elsewhere. +Posta content is transmitted through Google’s Display Network and shows up on third party websites relevant to your audience and content.

Viewers can comment on your ad, reshare it and +1 it without doing so through Google Plus (as long as they are signed in).  What distinguishes +Post ads from other types of advertising? These unique pieces of content are digestible and meant to educate and entertain on social media, rather than being composed of ad language meant specifically to capture leads. This could mean the beginning of an ad revolution – enticing users with videos, photos and content they want to see, rather than what we want them to see.

The Catch

Not everyone can utilize +Post ads – just yet. Your Google Plus page must first have over 1,000 followers (making you a “qualified” brand) before you can create a +Post ad.  This can be a difficult feat to achieve.

Google is also testing live hangouts on air and automatic promotion of posts (which automatically uses your last post as an ad, though you only pay per engagement) to make +Post ads more compelling and interesting to users and effective for advertisers.

However, the viability of Google Plus as a social network has been questioned, especially as Google takes steps to remove aspects that users actually care about – namely, the photos associated with content tied to the implementation of the rel=author code. So one important question will be – how valuable will +Post ads come to be? Is it even possible for small businesses to amass 1,000 followers? Will Google Plus simply become home only to the content businesses want to advertise?

In October, 540 million people signed into Google Plus, impressive (and unexpected) until you consider Facebook’s 1.2 billion monthly users. Turns out, Google Plus is serving its purpose regardless – prepping us all for a future in which ads are even more targeted to our interests, and our persona is completely tied to our online searches:

Analysts say it lets the company compile a more complete picture of a user’s habits or interests, by recognizing them on a variety of services and devices, which in turn helps Google show more relevant advertising. The biggest part of Google’s $60 billion in annual revenue is from ads tied to Internet searches, but it’s increasingly selling other types of online ads, too.”

Who has successfully used +Post ads?

In an effort to reach a younger audience with its advertisement for the new Corolla, Toyota took advantage of its 318,000 followers (certainly a “qualified” brand!) to run +Post ads. According to Google, “Toyota USA saw a 50% higher engagement rate than the industry average for rich media ads.” Toyota’s team used several +Post ads to appeal to a narrowly targeted, younger audience.

ASOS also recently ran a +Post Ad – this one to promote a “shoppable hangout” in which viewers could see and purchase items from a new active wear collection.  This event was broadcast via a live hangout, and 71% of live viewers actually watched via the company’s +Post Ad.

Getting Started

Regardless of whether you personally use Google Plus on a regular basis, or whether you think the social network is here to stay, it is becoming an important source of a new kind of advertising. Sharing engaging content via Google Plus is the first step toward +Post Ad success. Here are five steps you should take to get started:

  1. Make sure you have 1,000 or more followers for your Google Plus personal or business profile.
  2. Set your followers to public.
  3. Turn your “Shared Endorsements” on.
  4. Add your Google Plus URL to your AdWords account.
  5. Choose which post you want to promote. A post that has already had some amount of engagement will be your best bet for ROI.

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