Posted October 11, 2013 5:20 pm by with 1 comment

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shared endorsementsRemember when Facebook got in trouble for including profile pictures and names on “Sponsored Stories” ads without asking permission first? That lawsuit cost Facebook 20 million dollars.

Google wants to be just like Facebook, so now they’re including user profile pictures and names on ads they called “Shared Endorsements.” And this is going to be different how. . . ?

Google says they’re doing it to benefit you – the consumer.

We want to give you – and your friends and connections – the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with. On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.

Love the part about you being “in control of what you share.” So funny.

Feedback from people you know can save you time and improve results for you and your friends across all Google services, including Search, Maps, Play and in advertising. For example, 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. We call these recommendations shared endorsements and you can learn more about them here.

An endorsement from someone you know is useful and it does give a product or service some klout. So, that’s good for both the buyer and the seller.

When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play. If you previously told Google that you did not want your +1’s to appear in ads, then of course we’ll continue to respect that choice as a part of this updated setting. For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.

From this, I get that we’re all in the program unless we choose to go opt out right now. But I also love the phrase “we’ll continue to respect that choice.” Is it me or does that sound snarky?

As a marketer, I like this concept. As a human being, I don’t mind them using my name in connection with a product I liked. I initiated the action by plus 1-ing or starring or commenting, so I can’t blame Google for running with the ball I put into play.

But I just don’t see how this is any different than Facebook Sponsored Stories. What is Google doing differently that will prevent them from getting sued as well?

Your take? Do you mind Google using your endorsement on ads or will you be opting out the moment you read this?

  • I usually opt out of anything like this. One thing you didn’t mention is how having your favourite local bakery pop up on Google ads will give away your location – or at least remove that information from your control. I don’t know about you, but I’m not actually close friends with a lot of the people on my ‘friends’ list. I’d prefer choosing who I reveal personal information to. Google just doesn’t know me as well as it thinks.