Here Comes That Crazy Plus One Button Again

I knew this was long coming.

They captured the lower front in July and now the army is all set to march on. Starting October, Google will integrate the plus one button over Adsense advertisements and other display ads that are delivered from Google Display ad network.   The +1 button will begin to appear on AdSense for content and AdSense for mobile display ad formats, which includes image, animated gif and Flash ads.

Users will now be able to recommend or endorse advertisements to their social connections and Google is confident regarding the fact that this move will help both users and website owners.

Here is how the display advertisements will house the plus one button and people recommendations at the bottom:


Mr X, Miss Y and 200 other people have plus one’d this ad. So there must be something in here or why would they recommend this to YOU. Enough said!

Google says that plus one activity on advertisements is a really strong signal towards it’s relevancy. If John finds a particular ad very useful and he hits the Plus one button, John’s friends will see the recommendation on other websites and Google search results, provided they are searching for something similar.

But I am concerned over something else how will users use the plus one button on advertisements? Let’s take the example of a generaluser.

The user searches for cheap shoesand goes to a website from Google search results. He likes the content of the page but is attracted by the headline of an Adsense ad, placed above the fold. He clicks the ad and goes to the advertiser’s website. There he finds some more deals, signs up for an account, browses their store and performs other meaningful actions.

Now how is he going to plus one that ad which he thinks is very useful and his friends would love using it?

  • Is he going to remember the URL and landing page for the ad?
  • Is he going to hit the back button over and over again, come back to the publisher’s site and hit the plus one button?
  • Is he going to use the same search query again, go to the publishers website from search result page, find the ad and then plus one it?

The short answer to all of the above questions is NO. Web users have a short attention span, remember?

The other side of the coin is when people click the plus one button before clicking the advertisement. This defeats the sole purpose of the plus one button because if a user didn’t clicked the ad in the first place, how on earth can he recommend the target site to his friends? Of course, he can but then its useless for what it is intended for.

I am not sure how useful the user and advertiser experience will be after the plus one layer is spread over ads. In my opinion, this plus one thing has gone too far and it’s more like Attract the eyeballs.

The Ad Auction

The number of plus ones on a given advertisement will of course have an impact on the ad auction. If a given number of users hit the plus one button on an ad that’s served from Google display network, the same ad will have a higher chance of appearing on search result pages and other websites. This is true only when the host user is searching for something very similar and all the targeting conditions of the advertiser is met.

Result – some advertisers might experience a higher click through rate for specific keywords, which directly affects the ad auctions.

Google says

All eligible ads will continue to compete in the ad auction, and we’ll continue to show the ones that will generate the most revenue for you. +1 button clicks are not counted as clicks on ads. Although you won’t receive any revenue for +1 button clicks, +1’s will help AdSense to deliver more useful ads to your users, which we think will result in higher returns over time.

Opt Out Of Plus One Features And Social Annotations On Your Website

Thankfully, the social annotations feature is not forced and webmasters who would prefer not to use them over their Adsense ads, can completely opt out from ad annotations. Here are the steps:

1. Login to your Google Adsense account, switch to the new Adsense interface and click the Allow & block adstab.

2. Click Advanced settingson the left sidebar and choose Blockunder Social Ads Preference


From the webmasters perspective, I would rather choose Allowover Block. This is obvious I would first smell the water and check how the plus one activity affects my click through rate / revenue and then decide whether I should use the social annotations feature of Google Plus one button over Adsense ads used on my website.

If you are a Google Adsense publisher, my advice would be to first test and track both the scenarios and then arrive at a decision.

Remember – whenever your website makes money, Google makes money too. On top of that, they are testing these things on YOUR advertising space!


Published by

Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee