New Publication Policies Implemented by Prominent Online Social Media Test Consumer Commitment

On Thursday, October 10, 2013, Google published its plan to provide its advertisers with an opportunity to include consumer testimonials in their ads. I recommend reading this article by Joshua Brustein as published in BloombergBusinessWeek, Google Is Going to Include Your Face in Its New Ads, to get an idea of where they plan to take this new notion of just how far they can go with your content if you opt to publish it on one of their products.

Broadly speaking there’s little new about this announcement. Advertisers routinely include real life success stories and other types of testimonials in campaigns. But what is very new about the announcement is the treasure trove of endorsements Google plans on exposing to its advertisers for their use. All of the blog posts, alerts, status updates, and, perhaps, even emails produced by Google consumers are now fair game for these advertisers.

This decision is not likely to be well received by Google consumers. When this tactic is put together with very similar announcements from facebook (and, I believe, LinkedIn, as well), the average consumer of these services should be able to clearly see the boundary, perhaps for a first time, between online social media with attractive offers, versus online social media to be avoided.

The catalyst for these new positions, in all likelihood, is yet another round of efforts by Google, and other online social media hosts hungry for profits, and revenue growth, to monetize the enormous amount of content published by consumers.

Click advertising efforts have not been producing the profits of the past. Plans like the one Google announced will likely provide them with a new set of products they can offer to online advertisers at a premium, over and above normal click ad rates. The plan also serves as a tacit acknowledgement that more of the market for click advertising opportunities is after a method building brand awareness, and market exposure, than in the past. The “bread and butter” segment of these click advertisers used to be after an opportunity to sell products and services directly to the consumer. But those days are long gone.

These tactics may create an opportunity for paid media to offer completely private venues where consumers of these services can publish, in privacy. It’s hard to envision a large proportion of social media publishers simply accepting these new policies and continuing “business as usual.” It’ll be interesting to observe just how consumers actually react to these new tactics.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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