That gaping gap of whitespace on the right rail of Google Plus may look like prime display ad real estate, but if Google wants to profit from their social platform, the search behemoth may need to learn a few new tricks.
Early eye tracking studies from EyeTrackShop show user attention on Google Plus mirroring that of Facebook almost exactly. Social networkers who have learned to ignore the right rail on Facebook over time are already directing their attention to the social stream on Google Plus, suggesting users come to the platform with a predisposition for ignoring the right rail.
This form of banner blindness has pushed other networks to offer forms of social advertising, leaving us to wonder what Google Plus may have up their sleeve moving forward. With brand pages and an API still on the horizon it will be interesting to see what comes into play, but with everything in its infancy and talks of traffic drops, it’s smart that Plus has shunned advertising on the platform to date.
It would be a shame to see Google Plus lose user confidence with a social ad mistake that resembles LinkedIn’s misstep, so playing it safe feels right for awhile.
If the platform takes hold and users become disciples, Plus stands to gain significantly from innovative social advertising models. Odds are we have no idea what that means today, but there’s one thing we know without a doubt. Every time a user takes action on Google Plus they’re giving Google new data. Right now that data may seem frivolous, but over time that database of knowledge could help advertisers reach target audiences with absolute precision.
Another social flop could push Google back to the days after the failure of Buzz, but if this takes off the company could hold the key to more knowledge about us than anything (or anyone) to date. What this means for advertising is hardly imaginable, but for anyone looking to target specific audiences with intent, this is one opportunity worth keeping an eye on.