Google+ challenged to achieve scale by brands

Google's long-awaited social networking service, Google+, will have to achieve scale before marketing spend is diverted to it, marketers warned this week.

Google+: will have to achieve scale before winning marketing spend
Google+: will have to achieve scale before winning marketing spend

While Google+, which has similar features to Facebook, is currently invitation-only, marketers are investigating the opportunities it offers following its launch last week.

The service is available on desktop and mobile. It brings together existing Google tools and allows users to move their contacts into social 'Circles' based on their interests, upload photos and use video to chat to contacts.

Claudio Annicchiarico, head of digital for Fiat Group Automobiles UK and Ireland, said it spends "heavily" on Facebook and Google, which both "do very different jobs... as (Google) brings what it does closer together, we will look in more detail at how these channels are performing," he added.

With the network open only to Google account-holders, it will need to achieve a mass audience to guarantee its success.

Mark Vile, marketing director at Comparethemarket.com, said: "Facebook and Twitter have proved popular with marketers because that's where consumers are and social-media interactions are taking place. If Google+ can repeat this success, then marketers will be interested."

Similarly, Matt Knight, Ocado head of marketing, said: "Provided enough people sign up and use Google+ and it becomes ubiquitous like Facebook and Twitter, it'll be great. Anything that adds to the value of search is interesting to any business and any consumer."

However, Ian Dowds, senior vice-president of Specific Media, which last week bought Myspace, warned success is not certain.

He said: "Google will make it as easy as possible to monetise (the site), but whether advertisers will flood to it is another matter.

"Certain partners will be more willing to put money its way, but they will only look seriously when they see scale."

IN MY VIEW - EXPERT COMMENT

ROBIN GRANT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, WE ARE SOCIAL

"With this product's free video-calling, Skype should be worried. It also has characteristics of Twitter and Foursquare if you look at the mobile app version of it.

"Google is focusing more on the consumer proposition than making money for now. In the short term, it will look at addressing privacy concerns rather than offering juicy ad opportunities.

"But if it can link in usage behaviour from the social network with search data, that becomes very valuable."

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