Last week at the I/O Developers Conference, Google unleashed some new products and features that reaffirm their commitment to dominate search, social media, and mobile. But more importantly, they have also demonstrated that the lines between search and social are becoming more and more blurred, and that Google is throwing everything they have in their arsenal to be the driving force behind this. There is no escaping it; as marketers, we will all be impacted by these changes. Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s start by dispelling a myth that has been floating around the Web for some time now – Google+ is a ghost town. Google+ is in fact not a ghost town. It just hit its one year birthday and has gone from 0 to 250 million users in the first year. Yes, you heard right, 250 million users in one year. Google+ is also seeing heavy usage on mobile devices. Google has fostered this by introducing tablet apps for both iOS and Android. Here are some other noteworthy stats:
- 150 million monthly users
- 75 million daily users
- Google+ active users spend over 60 minutes a day across Google products
- Google+ users spend on average 12 minutes per day in the Google+
If the average active user on Google+ spends 12 minutes a day on the site, that’s over 6 hours a month. (Facebook users average just over 7 hours per month on the site.)
Marketing Impact: Google+ is seeing significant growth and is absolutely relevant to search and social marketing. Google considers Google+ the core to its ecosystem while it continues to integrate other Google products as “features” into Google+, creating one Google product experience. We have already seen Google begin integrating products with the Google Places > Google+ Local migration and we are sure to see more of these in the future.
Takeaway: Google+ needs to be in your social media and content marketing strategies – it will positively impact your search results. Embrace features like Circles and Google Hangouts to better connect and engage with your audience.
Redesigned Mobile Experience/Google Now
Google is slowly opening up the door to the next generation of search process. In fact, this search process might be smart enough to give you the information you need before you even realize that you need it. Let’s keep in mind that behind the oodles of products Google offers, their bread and butter is driving revenue through relevant advertising within search results. This model works best by returning the most accurate search results available, and having hyper-targeted user data enhances this experience even more.
Google has introduced a new search experience in conjunction with their latest release of Android 4.1 – Google Now. It’s a new search interface that encompasses both a behavioral and semantic style search based on your location, time of day, and personal schedule. So, for example, when you open the Google Now search page on your way to work, it may automatically pull transit schedule information and suggest restaurants on your route based on what it knows about your destination, habits, past search results, or possibly even restaurant reviews you have written (since Zagat is incorporated into Google+ Local). This concept could be applied to other verticals as well. If a user has executed past searches on Ford vehicles, Google Now may suggest dealerships that it knows are in an area that the user travels to frequently for work or play, or dealerships that have a model in inventory in which the user has previously searched.
Marketing Impact: This feature is so new that only time will tell how it evolves, but it could be very significant in the long term. Google is only going to get better at learning more about its users, which means it will get even better at delivering the most relevant content. It will be critical to business’ success that their content is delivered at the top of Google Now search results.
Takeaway: Marketers will need to understand the behavior of their target audience now more than ever and carefully craft relevant content. By gaining this understanding they will find patterns in consumer activity that reveals new touch points. Marketers should be able to answer questions like “What are my customers’ needs?”, “Where do my customers spend their time?” and “What does a day in the life of my customer look like?”
Gary Weinberg is an avid social media and technology geek who comes from a diverse background of business solutions. A Pittsburgh native, Gary currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the social media solutions lead for Cobalt.