A few weeks ago, Google made a startling announcement. After years of struggles and, frankly, bad publicity, they have finally decided to kill off Google+. Initially designed to compete with social networking sites like Facebook, Google had grand designs for Google+. However, they didn’t go as planned, and soon the network became a hangout for Google employees, and a bit of a running joke with everyone else. But why have Google decided to scrap the network now, and what does that mean for the future?
Why Didn’t Google+ Take Off?
Google+ was designed to become a wide-reaching social media network, to rival the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. But sadly, it never really found its feet. Even though Google+ has had a few makeovers and fresh looks over its 7 years in existence, it’s never really taken off in the same way as it’s competition. In theory there is no reason it shouldn’t have become just as popular, but the reality was quite disappointing. Ultimately, it was a failed venture, but with no one thing to pinpoint why it didn’t work. Like some things in life, it just didn’t. In their press release justifying the closure, Google said:
“The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds. There will be a 10-month transition and final closure will happen in August 2019.”
They also addressed the recent data breach scandal, which many believe is the catalyst for closing the network;
“Our Privacy and Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response. None of these thresholds were met here.”
A Big, Bad Data Breach
Google+ had been on its last legs for a long time, but the nail in the coffin came when it was announced that over half a million Google+ profiles were attacked, and their data exposed, thanks to a bug in the API. Around 438 applications used this API, and the bug allowed names, email addresses, demographic information and other profile information to be viewed by anyone. While this breach was mainly on the business-oriented product, Google has said that they plan to shutter both the business and the consumer version of the site as well. So now, the only version of the tool that will remain is the enterprise version, which is mainly used for internal communications at Google.
What Matters To Marketers?
Well, since most marketers weren’t relying on Google+ as part of their strategy, its closure probably won’t have too much of an impact. For the few who were using it, it means their focus will now need to shift to other platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. But we shouldn’t ignore this change altogether. Instead, marketers should be looking at the bigger picture, and the ability for users to tightly control what third parties can access and use. This has been a ripple effect of GDPR, and will likely impact how marketers use social media, and how they go about securing their customer data. It’s still early days, but the data suggests that customers are choosing to disclose less, keeping their private information private, and moving away from businesses who have a proven record of data breaches. So now, marketers need to focus on ensuring they are adhering to data privacy laws, while still offering a tailored and engaging marketing experience.
But this is not the end for Google. Google has become one of the biggest companies in the world, and while this data breach is a disappointment, we are confident that it won’t hurt their reputation in the market. Millions of businesses use Googles services, including AdWords, YouTube, Google My Business and more. At Ad-Extra, we are specialists in all things Google, helping you make the most of the gigantic platform. From training to managing it for you, we can make Google work for you. If you would like to know more about our Google based services, just get in touch with us today.