Google may feature adults in ads (unless you opt-out)

Examples of "shared endorsements" (Image from Google)

Examples of “shared endorsements” (Image from Google)

Users under-18 will not be featured in “shared endorsement” ads

How would you like to star in an advertisement?  Well, now’s your chance. Only don’t expect some lucrative endorsement contract or to be wined and dined and treated like a celebrity by companies seeking your endorsement. Instead, it just might happen automatically if you +1 or give an establishment a positive review on Google+ or “like” a product or service on Facebook

In an update to its terms of service, Google announced that — starting on November 11th —  ”your friends, family and others may see your (Google+) Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d.”  Your image in ads will only be seen by people you have chosen to share the content with, said Google. In other words — the people you include in the Google+ circles where you share content will see ads based on things you’ve  +1′d, which is the Google+ equivalent to a Facebook “like.”

An example provided by Google is that “your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google.”

How to opt-out

Google is allowing users to opt-out of Shared Endorsements (uncheck the box at the bottom of this page.

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You can uncheck the box that allows Google to share your name and profile photo in ads

Users under-18 might see shared endorsements from others but their own endorsements will not be shared.

Learning from Facebook

Just as Google+ itself was something of an homage to Facebook, this new advertising policy takes a page out of Facebook’s monetization playbook.  The theory is that people are more likely to click on ads that feature friends and to patronize services or buy products that their friends like.

What this means to you

It should come as no surprise that social media companies (and Google is now one of them) would want to monetize the power of “word of mouth” advertising by, in a sense, selling your endorsements to its advertisers. Personally, I find this disturbing only because a lot of people don’t realize that it’s going on nor know how to opt-out.  Google gets credit for allowing people to opt-out but I’m sure that a lot of people will not be aware that they can do that or how to do it).  It’s also a good idea to think before you “like” or +1 anything on Facebook or Google+. When you do that, you are making a statement and even though you might not think you’re endorsement will be used in an ad, you are setting youself up for just that. It’s one reason that I’m now extremely careful about what I “like” on Facebook.

This post first appeared on Forbes.com

Disclosure:  ConnectSafely.org receives financial support from Google, Facdebook and other technology companies. 

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