Google’s plan to make the world’s information publically available continues: the latest news is that it plans to take your personal photograph and use it in its advertisements.
The new service, known as Shared Endorsements, works in a similar fashion to the Google Authorship service, which places the name and photograph of an article author next to search results, on the web. Only Google plans to also use it for articles that you’ve +1’d using Google+.
Google explains it as follows: “for example, when you visit the Google Play music store, you may see that a friend has +1'd a new album by your favorite artist. When you search for a restaurant, you may see an ad including a 5-star review by another friend.”
You can expect your face to start appearing in search results like this from the 11 November, when the new policy is about to start:
Understandably, some people are less-than-keen to have their photograph used in Google’s ads.
On the one hand, it is fairly similar to straight-forward recommendations. Ronan Shields, from Marketing week says “For example, if a users enters the term ‘Italian restaurants’ into Google’s search engine they may be served with an ad for a nearby restaurant alongside a relevant favourable review of this restaurant from someone in their Google network.”
One popular protest involves people swapping their profile image for Google boss Eric Schmidt, so his image rather than their own appears on ads. But given that Google makes it fairly easy to switch out of the scheme, it might simply be better to opt out of Shared Endorsements.
How to turn off Google Shared Endorsements
If you want to prevent Google from using your picture in adverts across the web follow these steps.
1. Go to www.google.com, ethner your email and password and click Sign In
2. Now click this link https://plus.google.com/settings/endorsements (or click your Profile image and choose Account; click Google+ in the sidebar and Edit next to Shared Endorsements).
3. Scroll down and untick the box marked “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”
5. Click Save
From that point on you should no longer see your shared endorsements based upon Google+ activity.
Google reminds users that "unchecking the box means that Google won’t be able to share your recommendations with your friends in some cases where they might otherwise see and benefit from them."
Why is Google doing Shared Endorsements?
Alex Tait, from Marketing Week says Google’s integration of search and social has been underway for some time – +1s have been shown next to organic search results for some time.
“I assume [it] is aimed at improving the CTR [click-through rate] of its paid-for ads.” says Tait “It will make financial sense for them but as with all brands including Google it is a careful balancing act between monetisation and user experience”.
Kristin Brewer, IAB UK director of marketing and communications, says Google’s ‘Shared Endorsements’ are likely to appeal to advertisers, as most audiences are likely to trust ‘peer recommendations’ ahead of the broadcast messaging of more traditional ad formats.
It may well be that other people are more likely to click on ads, and buy products if your face is attached to it. But simply clicking a +1 on a page doesn’t necessarily mean that you approve of the product, or news article. It may be that you keenly disapprove of it, but wish to bring it to somebody’s attention. Indeed many people ‘Like’ Facebook pages and links while deeply disliking the subject matter intensely.