Featuring now in Google ads: you

Internet search giant to uses people’s names and photos as endorsements from today

The Google Plus logo. The new type of ads will draw information from the more than 540 million members of Google Plus, the social networking site set up by the company in 2011

The Google Plus logo. The new type of ads will draw information from the more than 540 million members of Google Plus, the social networking site set up by the company in 2011

 

Look out. From today, ads on Google, the world’s most popular search engine, could feature you and you won’t even know it.

A change in Google’s “terms of service”, which takes effect today, will allow the company to display users’ images and recommendations in some of its advertisements, although people will be able to opt out of appearing in ads.

The search engine said it plans to display users’ names, profile photos, ratings and endorsements on “reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts” from today.

The new type of ads will draw information from the more than 540 million members of Google Plus, the social networking site set up by the company in 2011.


Reviews
The search company will take the names and photos of Google Plus users, plus any reviews or public comments that the user has posted on YouTube, Blogger and Google Play, and put them in ads that friends and the general public can see.

The new ad formats, dubbed “shared endorsements”, mean users effectively become brand advocates among their Google circles.

Users over the age of 18 could thus see themselves pitching their favourite smartphone, or recommending an Italian restaurant across Google’s stable of sites, including in its search results.

Imagine you are considering an evening out on the town, and a quick Google search brings up some ads for new restaurants and bars that have opened in Dublin. Lo and behold, you see your friend’s face next to a favourable review by them.

Google is betting this type of personal recommendation will make people more likely to click through to an ad.

Google says the shared endorsements will help people “save time” and improve search results.

While users will be able to opt out of Google featuring their names and photos in shared endorsements, it appears that the company is discouraging users from revoking the permission.

The checkbox that says, “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads,” is already ticked, so users will have to uncheck it if they don’t want their name and picture to be featured.

Furthermore, when you uncheck the box, the search engine asks: “Are you sure? When you disable this setting, your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations.”


Facebook
The move mirrors an announcement in August by Facebook, which said it plans to gather users’ names, pictures and profile information for use in advertisements and sponsored content, without consent.

Facebook’s “sponsored stories” advertising feature turns a recommendation using the “like” button into an advertising endorsement on a friend’s Facebook page.

Unlike Google, however, the company has said users cannot opt out of the practice. The only way out is to not “like” pages.