Google’s New “Shared Endorsements” and What it Means for You

On November 11, Google implemented its new policy on shared endorsements, which, depending on what you may have heard, gives them permission to put your likeness in any ad anywhere on the web, in print, on billboards, and on television. Okay, so the truth is something somewhat less sinister, but the fact remains that, come the 11th, your activity in the Googleverse can be used in online ads moving forward. So what does this mean for you? How does it affect your online brand and what can be done about it? There are a number of important questions to be asked whenever a change like this is enacted, and we will try to take you through them one by one (as well as tell you how to turn this feature off).

So what does a “shared endorsement” actually mean?

According to Google, a shared endorsement can mean a few things. For the most part, “shared endorsements” is just a term for the things you already do publicly on Google. This includes +1’s, reviews, and recommendations. For instance, if you review a business on Google, this review can be seen by anyone searching for information on that business. This type of shared endorsement is nothing new; product and business reviews are already in the public eye, and, in fact, +1’s have been used in the context of Google’s ads for years.

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If you’re unsure what type of activity on Google is considered public and what is private, Google gives a basic overview of how to control what is shared across its services here. What’s different now, however, is that all types of endorsements can be used in the context of Google’s AdSense network. Your profile picture, along with a blurb of your review or recommendation, can appear beneath an ad in sponsored search results and on websites that use Google’s AdSense. It is a fairly simple change, but one that affects where and how your image can be seen across the web.

This sounds familiar, doesn’t Facebook already do this?

Sort of. Facebook uses your “likes” and reviews in their ads as well, often rampantly. The major difference is that these ads stay within the context of Facebook. Google’s AdSense network reaches far and wide across the internet, and so, in theory, your image has the potential to be seen in any number of places on the web, without your explicit knowledge. It sounds a bit scarier than it actually is. Google says they will only do this for products you actively endorse, while Facebook has been accused of using people’s images to endorse products they have no affiliation with. Google also makes it clear that this will only affect those over the age of 18, so if you have children, this policy change will not affect them.

So is this good or bad for me as a user?

It has the potential to be either. The bottom line is that you have to decide whether or not you’re comfortable with your public image being used to promote other people’s products. If you use social media strictly for personal reasons and have no business affilations, then all it boils down to is your own comfort levels with the new ad policy. However, if you are someone whose public image is also your brand, for instance a realtor or a small business owner, you may not want to see yourself endorsing a whole bunch of random products that have little or nothing to do with your professional life. Contrarily, if you are careful with what you endorse and +1, it may put your face out there in association with positive connotations, giving you the chance for more exposure at no cost to you.

Okay, but how does this affect my business?

It can affect your business in one of two ways: 1. As an AdWords user. This new feature will increase the usefulness of Google’s Ads. A potential client or customer is more likely to use your product if they already know someone who has had a good experience with it. This can open up a whole new area of customers who might have previously just ignored your text ad. 2. As a Business Page on Google. Shared Endorsements are not just limited to your personal page. If your business follows or endorses another business, this could be used in advertisements as well. If you only follow and endorse companies whose affiliation with you would show you in a positive (and relevant) light, then this feature has the possibility of being a useful one. If you are less discriminatory in who you follow, however, it is best to turn the feature off.

I’ve decided I don’t want this, can I turn it off?

Yes. Although Google is making this an opt-out change, which means that the new shared endorsements will most likely be turned on by default, you can go in and turn the feature off. Just click here and make sure the box at the bottom of the page is unchecked. This will ensure that your image and endorsements do not appear in Google’s advertisements.

That’s great, but I’m busy enough already, I don’t have time to keep track of all these changes.

I understand, believe me. Luckily if you’re a business or an individual professional, Diggs Design offers services that will handle this sort of thing for you. We keep on top of all the ins and outs of the social media and online marketing world so you don’t have to. Need someone to manage your social media presence? Want to start a new ad campaign on Google, Facebook, or the myriad of other advertising options? We’ve got that covered too. Our team of web experts is here to take care of your online needs so you can focus on your core business and not have to worry about how it’s being handled on the internet.


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