For those out there still consistently using Facebook, you might have scrolled through your news feed recently and come across what looked like a normal post, until you realized it was an ad for a product one of your 700 friends liked.
Ah-ha. Welcome to the age of new social endorsements, and sponsored stories. Do not be afraid.
The advertisements that take space on the right hand side of a Facebook user’s home screen have now stealthily made their way into newsfeeds. Google is now jumping on the bandwagon and is implementing it’s own type of social advertising starting Nov. 11 that turns it’s 18 and older users’ comments, ratings, reviews or “+1” into a form of advertisement.
For example, if a user writes a rave review about a new local restaurant and gives it five stars, it may be part of that restaurant’s ad all across the Web that the user’s friends would be able to see. Google will allow users to opt out of the ads, and let them know about it upfront.
Scary? Genius? It’s a little bit of both.
According to the Neilson Global Survey, which focuses in on what consumers watch and buy, 84 percent of consumers around the world said that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family over any other source of advertising.
A friend swears by a particular brand and recommends it to another friend, and so on. What Google and other companies are doing is honing in on something that happens on a regular basis anyway, and just using it to their benefit.
If the profile pictures and star ratings of your two closest friends appeared next to a specific website of a product you Googled, you would probably be more inclined to check that site first, based on your friend’s rating, then the other ones.
It’s a form of advertising that seems more comforting than the annoying in-your-face pop-up.
If you’re deeply involved in social media, this shouldn’t come as a shock or be to unsettling, but if you’re totally creeped out that Google and these companies are attempting to play Big Brother, you can always go under the radar. People already share what they eat for every meal of every day, it might as well have a recommendation, and the restaurant’s information with it.