Google Stepping Up Efforts To Squash Unofficial Google+ Brand Pages

Google

Google+ opened to business pages earlier this week, and within days, unofficial company sites popped up across the social network. Bank of America became victim to several fake Google+ pages. A few Google+ members who adopt brand names seem to take to the notoriety as a result of the change that serves up listings in google.com when typing the brand name alongside "Google+" into the search box. Typing in "+," along with the brand name, serves up a link that takes the searcher directly to the company's Google+ page.

Google will continue to work to prevent impersonations. On the Pepsi brand page, for example, a checkmark signifies that Google confirms the page authentic. This isn't something that companies can apply for -- not a badge of honor, but rather certification of authenticity, said a Google spokesperson, explaining the company's outreach process to larger brands.

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Secondly, companies can connect their Web site and Google+ brand page through a snippet of mark-up code. "We do allow fan pages where it might read 'unofficial,'" she said. "We would ask that it be removed if there's blatant impersonation."   

A Google team dedicated to monitoring brand sites will go through the company's policies to determine the sites that go or stay.

Steve Beatty, SEO manager at Covario, points to the term "Nissan Google+," which clicks through to a car dealership. It suggests Nissan has not set up a Google+ page. "Google will need to come up with a relevancy algorithm, so when someone searches on a head term only the brand's site would serve up," he said.

Aside from the fake brand sites now infiltrating Google's social site, technology companies have begun thinking about or building products to support data flowing into, out of, and through the Google+ network. Kurt Strumpf, chief technology officer, Engage 121, which collects and integrates data from sites like Google+ into other platforms, continues to think ahead.

Strumpf suggests that Google validate the Google+ brand page by linking it also with profiles on Google Places.  A Google+ API for brand pages allows brand to connect with visitors via Hangouts through video chat. Brands can create polls or any other gadgets that go on a Web site page.

"We're anticipating that companies develop technology platforms that let people remotely write posts on Google+," he said. The TweetDeck-like apps would allow people to stream posts through an API. "I haven't seen a product road map from Google, but they continually update their developers' documentation."

It's early days, but Marin Software VP of Marketing Matt Lawson expects Google will eventually open an API to provide information on a variety of interaction and social metrics from brand page visitors. "When they do, we will look to incorporate these metrics, not only into conversion reporting, but also into our attribution and bidding algorithms," he said. "We will have to see exactly what data they make available and how. Once we do, expect tighter integration with Marin and other platforms."

Marin recently tied its search engine marketing platform to pull in Facebook and YouTube data.

Roger Barnette, president of digital SEM IgnitionOne, said Google+ is an example that the future of advertising does not live in a vacuum. "Paid media performance will increasingly be impacted by earned and owned media activities," he said, noting that it's important to help advertisers understand how this earned and owned media should be valued in the conversion funnel, and how to leverage them to make more informed advertising decisions.

It's important to help brands understand how all online marketing activity -- from a customer's behavior on a Web site to SEO and email -- impact ad performance and drives conversion, Barnette said. For IgnitionOne, the plan to build out services for Google+ could include analytics services on brand pages and support the impact of +1s on ad campaign performance.

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