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Matt Buckley

PPC Manager

Google developed Plus for a whole host of reasons, but the project's roots can be traced back to the fact that they want to know more about their users. They have been increasingly trying to bring social signals into their algorithm to assist in the ranking of websites in the search results. If you +1 a website, it’s a vote of confidence for that site. Much like a Tweet or a FB Like, you have manually reviewed the site in question and would share it with your friends. Google can collate this information and plug this into their algorithm; it all helps to ensure they know which sites should be at the top of the SERPs.

But that’s not the only reason Google would like to obtain more personal information. Their current PPC offer is very search centric. Google has very little knowledge about their users, likes and dislikes. They show adverts based on search queries, not personal preferences. Google has seen Facebook’s model of advertising and knows it’s a more personalised and targeted approach that it could learn from. This is where Google Sparks comes in. Take a look at the video below for a quick explanation as to what Sparks does: In short, this is quite similar to Stumbleupon. The user puts in their interests and Google serves up a list of the latest news / blogs / information about that category. In the image, you can see I selected three areas of interest. I clicked into the Android section and this is the view I see: It looks a bit like the news search results but with bigger snippets of the article and less clutter. It’s effectively a non-stop stream of the latest content from around the web. It’s the perfect feature for advertisers, as the user has happily said they are interested in your particular area. Google can create a profile for each user based on the things they +1 and the areas they add to the Sparks. This would enable Facebook-like targeting for advertisers, where Google could offer up users segmented into categories. The fact is, if Google can guarantee a user likes a certain product/sport/entertainment, then the chance that user clicks on a related advert increases. And a higher click-through rate means more advertising dollars. If the Sparks feature becomes part of a user's social life, it’s just a matter of time before Google will begin to sell adverts on Google Plus. What are your thoughts? Please comment either below or on Twitter - @matt_buckley