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January 4, 2013

Google Service Users Being Forced Onto Google+

Google is getting forceful in its efforts to take on social networking king Facebook.

The technology titan is now requiring those who use Gmail, YouTube and other Google services to use Google+ as well. In fact, the company is automatically setting up its users with public Google+ pages that can be viewed by anyone online.

The push came from the top, according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ report indicated Google CEO Larry Page has endorsed the move in an aggressive bid to reel in more members.

“Both Facebook and Google make the vast bulk of their revenue from selling ads. But Facebook has something Google wants: Facebook can tie people’s online activities to their real names, and it also knows who those people’s friends are,” the report says. “Marketers say Google has told them that closer integration of Google+ across its many properties will allow Google to obtain this kind of information and target people with more relevant (and therefore, more profitable) ads.”

With the new ability to acquire information on individual users’ Internet habits, Google’s multi-billion ad business can only benefit.

According to Business Insider, however, Google may want to usurp Facebook as the social network of choice, but the sudden change is more likely in response to Amazon, which launched its own ad exchange last month.

Amazon is a formidable opponent for Google because the e-retailer is already armed with mounds of data on its customers allowing the company to easily target ads.

Here is an excerpt of analysis from Business Insider:

• Amazon: Owns the best database of actual shopping history and purchases. This type of data is like gold for advertisers.

• Facebook: Owns the best database of personal information about consumers. One billion users strong, with all their interests and friends, it’s terrifically useful stuff for marketers.

• Google: Has traditionally dominated the “purchase intent” sector of the category. When people search for “Star Wars DVD” online, that’s a pretty good indicator they want to buy said movie.

Google’s move to force Google+ on its users will ensure that its data on shoppers and their purchase histories will be at least as good as Amazon’s or Facebook’s. In fact, Google may very well become the best advertising bet because by linking users’ personal Google+ profile data to anything else they choose to do in Google, the company should, in theory, have more information to offer advertisers.

As Business Insider points out, Google, essentially, is sacrificing user privacy for two things: the almighty dollar and to ensure it stays at the top of the advertising heap.