Google Plus and the Battle for your Information

There’s a lot of proposed killing going on these days.  But there’s no blood or violence involved in these killings. No guns or knives, just a whole lot of code, hardware, pixels and a big ol’ bunch of nerd hype – the killers I’m talking about are the supposed iPad killers and Facebook killers and Google killers.

One of the more recent ‘killers’ to make the tech blog hype list is Google+ (Google Plus). Touted as the ‘Facebook killer’, Google Plus was apparently Google’s fatal uppercut to Mark Zuckerberg’s 800+ million member social juggernaut.

And it started off with enough hype and sign ups to strongly suggest the Facebook doomsayers may have been correct this time. The initial invites went out to a handful (thousands) of mega nerdy people to come and be the first to test it out.  I was lucky (or nerdy) enough to get a hold of one of the original round of invites and for a good few weeks my inbox and phone was swamped with friends looking for an invite. The hype machine was working overtime. In less than one month after officially opening its doors, Google Plus had over 20 million subscribers.

Articles flew around the web about how Google had either created the next and much better Facebook or how Google stuffed up and now Facebook would gobble them up. And to this day the argument continues.

The Google Plus momentum has definitely slowed since those first couple months of insane growth and Facebook is still by far the biggest bully in the social playground.

But what if Google Plus was never meant to be the Facebook killer it was touted as trying to be? Perhaps Google’s plan all along was to create a way to gather valuable user information. If it happened to turn into a popular social hangout, then that would be a welcome by-product.s

Sure, on the outside both Facebook and Google Plus look like a great way for people to interact with friends and peers. A place to upload photos of your mate’s drunken antics or videos of cats doing stupid things. But what is the true value of Plus and Facebook? What is the secret, magical ingredient that allows speculators to value a company like Facebook at $100 Billion?

You are!

Or to be more accurate, your data is.

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re not charged to use any of these services, it’s because your information is worth more to these companies than any ‘sign up’ fee could ever be. Your information is the golden goose to advertisers who are eagerly waiting to pay big bucks in order to sell you the latest mobile phone or Sham-wow.

It’s this revenue that drives Google in particular. 97% of Google’s total revenue comes from advertising. Between Q2 and Q3 of 2011 Google’s revenue totalled US$33.3 Billion. Not a bad payday for 6 months huh.

Google can advertise to you based on any number of factors including location, search history and platform. But where Google has a chink in their advertising armour is they’ve had difficulty finding out about the ‘person’ searching on their platform; the exact information that Facebook is built from.

But where Facebook struggles (Projected $4.27billion in advertising revenue for 2011) is that their platform isn’t a place where users are looking for things outside of status updates and photos of old school mates.

Each platform, Facebook and Google, has what the other wants. Facebook wants search traffic, Google wants more personal user data.

Google Plus was built, as Google’s Chief Business officer Nikesh Arora has stated, as a place that would bring together all the products and services Google currently offer. He even stated that “Plus was never just about getting people together on one site and calling it a social network”.

It isn’t (just) a social platform, it’s the glue of the Google led Internet. The hub that links your online activity to you as an individual. Making Google a more efficient advertising killing machine. Like a helpful T-1000.

Google Plus has recently surpassed the 50+million user mark. Combine that information with its already dominant Adwords platform and that’s 50+ million much more targeted ads that Google can send your way.

So if you’ve had a look at Google Plus and pondered where all the YouTube videos of talking animals or photos of nana’s birthday party are, well, they’re on Facebook still and Google’s probably happy if you keep them there. They know that it’s becoming far too difficult to not one day wander on over to a Google property and sign up to one of those handy little services they have like Gmail, Places, Google Docs or YouTube.

And now for the shameless plug: MYOB is now on Google Plus. For the latest MYOB information, be sure to pop past and add us to your circles.

What are your thoughts about Google Plus, Facebook or social web in general? Good, Bad, Fun, Evil? We’d love to know what you think in the comments below.


Daylan Pearce | Search/Content Developer – MYOB