+1 Button on AdWords: Paying for What You Could Get for Free?

Advertiser talks about struggle trying to opt out

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+1 Button on AdWords: Paying for What You Could Get for Free?
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Before Google unleashed its new social network Google+, it launched the +1 button, which appears on content sites across the web, in Google search results, and on Google’s AdWords ads. Now that the button appears in the Google+ stream as well, it’s likely that the +1 buttons everywhere will get clicked more.

What if you don’t want the feature on your ads though? Do you have a choice? Perhaps you feel like it could lead to more clicks that you don’t want to pay for. One advertiser shared a story with WebProNews about just such a scenario, and discussed his struggle trying to opt out of the feature, which has so far been unsuccessful.

Should advertisers be able to opt out from having +1 buttons on their search ads? Tell us what you think.

First, here’s how Google explains the +1 button in relation to AdWords:

When making decisions, people often turn to those they trust for recommendations. Now with the +1 button, people can recommend your site’s content or ads to their friends and contacts right when their advice is most useful – on Google search.

Let’s say you own a hotel in Madrid. Brian is having a lovely stay at your hotel, and visits your site to look up local attractions. He sees the +1 button you’ve added to your page, and clicks it to recommend your business to his friends and contacts.

When Brian’s friend Ann plans her trip to Spain, she signs in to her Google account, searches on Google, and also sees your hotel’s ad – plus the personalized annotation that Brian +1’d it. Knowing that Brian recommends your hotel helps Ann decide where to stay during her travels.

“I was informed by a standard email presumably sent to all AdWords advertisers advising of +1 and explaining that AdWords would be visible within the +1 social network, meaning that if Bill clicks on my advert then all of Bill’s +1 friends are also shown my advert and therefore invited to click on it also,” Jon, an AdWords advertiser tells WebProNews.

Jon’s business is a campground, and he claims to have strong geographic and language preferences, and his AdWords account set so that his ads only appear on search engine results. “I am an ex IT consultant and very Internet savvy,” he says. “I fine tune my AdWords campaigns.”

“I don’t want to have my adverts shown on the +1 network,” he tells us. “The principle reason is that I only want to spend money reaching totally virgin customers. The reason for this is that campers are social animals, and as soon as Bill finds a great campground he will tell all his camping buddies. I don’t need help from Google getting referrals via this mechanism. Once Bill knows I am content to wait until Bill tells his friends verbally or via email, that does not cost me a dime.”

“The other objection is that Bill may have friends in other geographic locations who may speculatively click on my advert as exposed to them via Bill and the +1 network, whereas previously I could limit geographic scope on my AdWords campaign,” he adds. “And Bill is intelligent enough to know which of his online buddies lives too far away to find my campground of interest – and anyway I am not paying for Bill’s verbal or email recommendations.”

Jon pointed to the hassle he has had trying to opt out of +1’s on his ads. “Last time I looked there was no ‘+1′ opt out on the AdWords users’ control panel – I expected just to login and tick the appropriate ‘NO’ box and all would be cool (I was still irritated that I was opted in by default, but hey they are trying to make money aren’t they?).”

“Nope – you have to hunt around documentation to find a buried ‘opt out form’. By buried I mean that Google clearly don’t want you to find it easily,” he says. “You have to read FAQs and things first.”

The form looks like this:

Opt Out form for +1 Button on AdWords

“When I tried the form it didn’t work. It failed to give a confirmation page and instead indicated a field error by stipulating ‘required field’ in red, but unfortunately this was next to the very tick box that I deselected to indicate that I wanted to opt out,” he says. “I worked in IT for 15 years and I can design a bug free form in my sleep but Google engineers needed two attempts over two weeks with me sending screen shots and verifying that I had tried multiple browsers and so on.”

“After about two weeks of Googles ‘experts’ working on the issue they got the form working so I was able to indicate that I wanted to opt out,” he continues. “Then I followed up by indicating my lack of confidence in this whole setup with the Google guy who has been handling my case and asked when I was going to actually hear anything . You see, the opt out option is not a ‘right’ or an immediate thing – it is a ‘REQUEST’.”

Jon claims a Google employee told him:

Hi Jon,

I spoke with the PM responsible for this and he re-iterated the following:

»Submitting this form is not a guarantee that your campaigns will be opted
out of social features.” This is clearly stated on the submission form

If his request were to be granted then you would be contacted as also
explicitly stated on the form.

>From the form: “We will review these requests and may contact you at the
e-mail address provided.” – notice it says may, not will.

“So you see I have only managed to get on the waiting lists to be ‘CONSIDERED’ for opt out, and apparently I can only be sure that I will be contacted if my ‘REQUEST IS GRANTED’,” Jon says. “May I reiterate here that I am ‘requesting’ the right to decide how my advertising revenue is spent. I know my customers and I believe that the +1 network will deliver only what I get for free right now but at a price.”

“I am not against +1 or its incorporation into AdWords, but I am really annoyed that Google has first of all opted me in by default, then provided me with a buggy opt out mechanism that takes two weeks to fix, and then tells me as if a royal speaking to a subject that what I consider to be a ‘DEMAND’ is actually a ‘REQUEST’, and that I ‘MAY’ be contacted if they decide to ‘GRANT’ me the right to decide how my money is spent.”

What do you think of Jon’s story? Should opting out of this feature be a right or is it simply Google’s right to handle this feature of its product how it sees fit? Tell us what you think in the comments.

+1 Button on AdWords: Paying for What You Could Get for Free?
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  • SuzanneL

    How about Jon test pausing his AdWords campaign entirely, and putting his campground on a new fangled Google Places page, instead. After all, those only come up to active virgin searchers, his target market.

    • http://www.betheculprit.com Joshua brinckerhoff

      SuzanneL, Totally agree. What an intelligent solution to his issue.
      I personally think that Google makes it more difficult for advertisers when they implement new tech like this +1 and such. However it isn’t their responsibility to make it easy.
      If you become and early adopter and figure out how to implement these changes with finesse you will lead the herd.

    • http://www.chaikastudios.com Tristan

      +1 for this comment!

      • http://soberlivingsearch.com Tom Rees

        Suzanne has obviously struck on a great solution, but I disagree with the notion that it is not Google’s responsibility to make it easy. I think if they implement a new way of doing things that could affect people in negative ways, that it IS their responsibility to make it easy, and opting out should be a simple enough menas of allowing for an easy out. The fact is, you JOIN facebook and these other social sites. It is your choice.

        Of course it is my choice if I use Google or not, but I should not be forced into a social situation that is not part of the reason I like the site, which is for its superior search results. The fact is, Google obviously does not want to give their users an easy out, and I think that whole angle is subversive.

    • Jon

      Thanks for the advice Suzannel but right now I am in high season – I almost laughed when Google suggested that if I objected to paying for +1 related clicks I should pause my campaign until my case was resolved.

      Thats like cutting my leg off right when I need it in the middle of a race.

      Google launched this in the single month that I make over 60% of my entire years revenue – I am not going to pause any advertising campaign in this period.

      Look I am in business, I dont have the luxury of jumping ship to make a point, I can only do it when the numbers stack up and even so I would opt for a gradual change as sudden changes as knee jerk reactions are not a great idea in business.

      Suppose +1 results in me spending 20% more on adverts I dont want – it still makes no sense for me to make changes at this critical point in my business cycle. So yes I am angry and yes I want Google to take note but NO I dont want to cut of my nose just to make a point.

      The solution to this issue is not to try alternatives – its for Google to listen to its customers. Thats why I wrote to Chris Crum in the first place and why this debate is taking place here.

  • http://www.NewMovementMedia.com New Movement Media

    I think that you should be able to opt-out of the +1 potential extra ppc charges on your ads. Like you stated in the article, some people will not need or want to pay for other peoples recommendations online. I also think that for Jon’s case he should get a Google Places Boost Ad. That would help target his market properly. Also check www.newmovementmedia.com/blog for the more Google + articles.

  • http://howtogetridofacnespots.com/poppingpimples.html John

    Google and there psychologists long figured out how people will react, to make sure this scam will work. Money Money Money is the name of the game. People click on their friend’s +1 s just to see what they were looking at. I think in the name of respect and honesty, they should get rid of the feature in adwords. No ifs or butts

  • http://arkanbiz.ru arkadjar


  • http://www.SimpleGrafx.com Ray Evans

    Is this a trick question? Of course you should be able to opt-out of any addition that costs money. I too deal with a very localized list of clients and I sure don’t want to dilute the number of local clicks to reach people outside of my marketing area. Duh!

  • http://www.tden.com King Ralph

    The reason Gargle gets away with this nonsense is because there’s no real competition. It’s time for Yahoo and MSN to step up to the plate but they appear to be too incompetent to do so.

    • http://www.chaikastudios.com Tristan

      Like MSN has any more integrity….

  • http://www.goodforthecountry.com Mr. Bosisovitch

    This is a trend in business to discourage loss of customers. This is a very indecent practice with a lack of values. No integrity is becoming the new ethos in business. I have at least four experiences recently with various online services where this has surfaced as if they all just got back from the same business convention.

    First, they make it hard for you to each them. Next, they pretend to misunderstand the nature of the problem. The correspondence seems to state solutions, but they act as if you stated another complaint. Next, they point fingers at the agencies who referred you or uploaded your content on your behalf, and finally, they ignore you and hand you off.

    I swear, they hire people for their stupidity and not their intelligence.

    Acting stupid is part of this larger practice of ignoring complaints. You’re going to see a lot of this.

  • http://kidsinthewater.com steve c

    I recently became a google adsense customer i never opted to add the +1 button into my account.It dosent seem to have effected the account at all im still recieving my revenue. Maybe thath’s the key dont add the +1 button to your account.

  • http://www.chaikastudios.com Tristan

    If someone is specifically paying for targeted advertising service, I don’t think Google should hijack that intention by forcing them to use the +1 service.

    That would be like paying a publisher to run an ad in Hot Rod Magazine, and then the publisher decides to run it in Ladies Home Journal, too, because they know the advertiser’s friend’s brother’s wife has heard them talking about fast cars before.

    Also, with pay-per-click, you usually set up what kind of budget you’re willing to spend. When you meet your budget, they stop displaying the ads. With +1, will the ad links be there for you to pay-per-click forever? Will the links die and people be left thinking your company is defunct?

    I can see two ways around this debacle:
    1) allow for a simple opt out check box in the adwords setup
    or, even better
    2) set it so that if someone +1s an ad link the ad information is stripped, and only the original unadulterated link shows up in the Google+ stream.

    I can see this solution helping to limit abuse, plus +1 is a free service anyway. Why charge one segment of people (that are ALREADY paying customers) for it?

    It’s like Google is trying to take credit for word of mouth referrals.

  • http://gardenofhedonism.com Jill

    I feel that Google often forgets that the advertiser is the customer. I don’t know of any traditional medium — television, radio, or newspaper — that would force feed an added-cost item.

  • http://www.destinationgraphix.com Gabrielle

    There’s nothing right about this scenario. Of course it should have an opt-out feature. Reminds of Google’s June promotion to gain new adwords customers, sending out care packages with disks and links to $100 credits for our customers. The sign up page worked as good as Jon’s form. There was no submit button, you were forced to call. Calling got us nowhere, only to staff who couldn’t help us and needed to send us to a different dept for technical support. Oh, the one guy in technical support was not at his desk, leave a message. Needless to say, Google lost the new customers they were trying to get, at least from my camp.

  • Alvin

    If people enjoyed my service, then they’ll naturally recommend my business. I don’t need a recommendation on an ad that I’m paying to appear at the top of search results. I want clients who have never heard of my business before, and besides, if I have a happy client, why would he go and search for my ad just to +1 it? Makes no sense.

    Anyway, I don’t think people click the +1 to recommend anything. I think they click the +1 just because it’s something to click, and to see what happens when they click it.

  • http://vadpr.com Kurt

    I buy Adword campaigns for clients when they demand it and while I am sure I will get a fiery reply to this comment… I usually don’t see a great ROI on it. There are so many ways to market online, that I have to wonder if its worth 3000.00 in a month to get a thousand more views on their page.

    Conversion is key and MAYBE the +1 will help with conversion rates?

    In the end, its GOOGLE’s product and we have the choice to buy it or not. If the auto-opt-in thing bothers you… you have the choice to spend money on other media buys.

    • Jon


      Kurt Says – “In the end, its GOOGLE’s product and we have the choice to buy it or not. If the auto-opt-in thing bothers you… you have the choice to spend money on other media buys.”

      I am the original complaintif and “NO” I do not have the choice to use other advertising streams – Googles monoopoly ensures that. If you want to make arguments of free trade and free choice then make sure you apply them in cases of non-monopolised markets otherwise your arguments do not hold water.

      I would gladly jump ship to Bing if they had anything like Googles reach – however in my Geographic area Bing performance ( vs Google ) is even lower than the global norms, its so low that I would not actually be able to spend my advertising revenue.

      I am a campground owner – I know what avenues for spending my advertising budget are – they are geographically sensitive. I am a campground owner but I also consider myself to be a business man, I look at advertising choices with care and with analysis and without emotional baggage and I assure you that I do not consider that I have any other rational choices for the budget I am spending with Google Adwords.

      I respect the sentiment of your reply but it is mis-applied in a monopoly situation.


  • http://www.codeauthority.com J. M.

    It feels as if there are many times when Google takes away the rights of the Internet users and does not even have the decency of cover it up. It’s similar to being charged by your bank when you are using YUOR OWN money. I agree with King Ralph, if there would be some competition out there to keep Google in check, this would not happen. Google is holding all the key properties in this big game of Internet Monopoly.. it’s a shame we cannot all decide not to use Google in order for the company to think twice about trying to abuse its users.

  • http://www.bestebookreaderscompared.com/ eva

    I can see dollar signs again in Google’s eyes – but this time they’re taking advantage of the Advertisers who, as this story tells, will take a very big hit in not being able to target their “buying” customers any more. Even if they only charged pennies for those who clicked through fro the Social network that wouldn’t have ever seen the ad before, it will hurt the advertisers.

  • http://www.smallbusinesswizardry.com AJ

    Couldn’t agree more, the +1 should of course be an opt-out choice just like search partners and the display network. Unfortunately Google has decided it knows whats best for everyone again, as usual the decision is not right for everyone…

  • http://totalmanager.com.au geoff

    Great article, I can concur. After reading this I tried to find the opt out form. After 15 minutes and I gave up. I seriously think Google have a social if not a legal obligation to make this a simple opt in / out function. I have no problem in letting Google install it as the default as it will appeal to the majority of site owners. However as an SEO consultant I can see a number of reasons why you would not want this on your site, especially if you are a trades person who offers a service in a very defined area, That’s why we have Google places which works very well for most people if optimized correctly!!

  • http://www.trafficact.com.au TrafficAct_Digi

    Excellent point!
    Yes, I think we should be able to opt out of the +1 on Adwords. Sometimes we may not want to benefit from a larger geographical distribution as we simply do not always reach all corners of the earth with our products and services. For some it is a welcome additional to the google mix, but for those of us who don’t want it, please make it easy Google?

  • John

    Why do people jump on the first train coming out of Google’s station in the first place? Search results leave much to be desired, places page makes you want to tear your hair out, etc, etc. I mean, why are people so enamored with Google? It is a junk engine trying to be all things to all people and fails miserably.

    I never took a second look at +1 and have absolutely no intentions of putting it on my sites or clicking a +1 button.

    I do believe that eventually users will tire of Google’s BS and wean themselves from this internet tyrant. Time to cut the apron strings, folks.

  • http://get-business-online.com/ Get Business Online

    I’ve been finding Google increasingly unresponsive too. Hopefully, Larry Page’s new company focus will include customer service…

    Thank you for posting the form link and letting people know about the “feature” and the option for not using it. For the people who’ve missed the link to the form (like Geoff), just click the form image.

    I think many people in the world choose open source software to avoid these things and avoid the likes of Microsoft and Apple. If Google doesn’t watch itself, it may find itself with a bloated social network and no advertisers.

    Having said that, in many cases, the +1 button would be truly valuable in conjunction with advertising, particularly when Google starts integrating more demographics and personalization directly into AdWords, the way Facebook has done.

  • http://www.elbruztreks.com pema dorjee sherpa

    Why do people jump on the first train coming out of Google’s station in the first place? Search results leave much to be desired, places page makes you want to tear your hair out, etc, etc. I mean, why are people so enamored with Google? It is a junk engine trying to be all things to all people and fails miserably.

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    Google this, Batman; @#$%x* Google is as Google does~ even though it would make more sense with Adsense than Adwords, Google will do as it pleases. The number of +1’s, like likes and tweets does not = conversions. I would just as soon there be a paradigm-shift and Google, MS/Yahoo! and Facebook were dethroned from the Ad Hill, but, the number of users with other search engines, such as Lycos, is sparse. The masses determine the market.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH3QPJSVBiI Alec Ward

    IMO Google are marvellous at dreaming up new ways to use the internet and useless at after sales service so this story is similar to my own experiences. It’s almost as if they see themselves above all this time wasting business of looking after customers. It’s ironic, but if there was a way of giving Google +1, I should imagine most people wouldn’t. The trouble is, as I said at the beginning, they are marvellous of dreaming up……….., and so I will continue to use their services.

  • http://www.Transporterhire.co.uk Mike

    +1 will lead to users clicking on the +1 recommended ads simply out of curiosity rather than being genuine ad respondents.

    The quality of traffic will be very poor and costs will increase dramatically. I am opting out though I have not received confirmation from Google that they will be so kind and consent to MY chooice of how and where i want my ads to appear.

  • Maurice

    Lets boycot the whole Google + bullshit. We dont need a second Facebook!
    Google fuck off and stay at search (and some other shitty products)!

  • http://www.mybignetwork.uk.com Michelle

    I don’t like the whole Google+ idea. I now have to spread my efforts across both facebook and Google.I love facebook and I just really don’t find Google+ to be very user friendly, we’re not all techi.

    I also advertise on adwords and I have always opted out of my ads showing across other sites, I only want to appear in the Google search results which I am paying for.

    Since the launch of Google+ my adwords bill has gone up so much that I have now paused my account. I need to advertise my business, but it has to be at a price which is viable for my business.

  • http://www.drivethrul.co.uk Kay

    i guess the +1 it’s just an extra tool to keep you on your toes to make sure people like your service. it will also show the site popularity.

  • http://www.ronyox.info manyunte

    hmmmm… as usual the decision is not right for everyone…

  • Candi

    I been getting good traffic with my website as it is but I’ve been toying with the idea of signing up for AdWords, now I guess I won’t.

  • Adrian

    Surely the fairest approach would be for Google to include an “adhere to my geographic campaign settings when displaying +1 in ads” checkbox. I find it hard to believe they don’t have the technical means of acheiving that?

  • http://www.berkshirelinks.com/ Dave Read

    Thanks for a very useful article that also serves as an excellent lesson on both adwords and the social networking business model.

  • http://jutmail.com Geert de vries

    It seems that Google is the ultimate oppressor in the world. I guess MicroSoft must be happy with this because it takes the heat away from them. I had dealings with Google and that is irreversible. Don’t ask me what happened because I don’t know.

    So, Again Big G is setting the bar and the rules, which you can’t win.

    talking about the biggest losers.

  • http://www.seopawnee.com/ Pawnee Walia

    Very nice and informative article.

  • http://www.behrlenyc.com cdb

    we experienced something similar, not with +1 but with the product google replaced tags with. not being IT pros at all it took close to 2 weeks and many phone calls to be taken off the “trial” which was really not a limited time tryout of a new product(as presented) but an ongoing, and for us a completely unwanted & unneeded adwords campaign. For much the same reasons Jon, does not want to use +1. We have never reached our target clientele via adwords – they simply don’t shop that way. Google somehow can’t/won’t believe it. But adwords and it’s various off shoots don’t work for every business out there, it’s not a one-size fits-all world. Not yet.

  • http://davidgadreauphotography.ca David G.

    As people are paying for their ads, it should be up to the people to opt in or out. If this were a free service, it would be more of a coin toss.

  • Tony

    All the social networks buttons shouldn’t influence search enginess positioning!!! They could condition the neutrality of the Internet, and prostitute the “quality content concept” that Panda is intended to promote.

    Just think think about 2 companies doing SEO to get on top. One of them make a decent profit but have a reduced number of employees, the other has a modest profit but a large number of employees an ask their employees to click in every social button…

    Another example, think about a serios company trying to provide good content for their site, and another trying to provide good content but with some content created only for social brainless sharing, like babies laughing when playing with puppies, with a social button influencing the formal article… aaaagh!!!

    Internet-fiction? Well it could became true, social cheating!!! All social buttons should be neutral for positioning.

  • http://www.trebolexpeditions.com/ Shomara

    great advice
    I guess MicroSoft must be happy with this because it takes the heat away from them.

  • http://bestnews-source.com shamas

    It is my personal belief, anytime a new tool or function is to be added to a service or product, the vendor should have the right to charge an additional fee for it’s ussage.

    Likewise, the paying customers should also be given the choice whether to opt out of using that new product or service. Nobody should not be forced use a product they simply don’t like to use. It’s only good business to give paying customers what they want to pay for since being allowed to choose is what’s keeps everyone happy.

    Besides, maintaining a good relationship with the paying customers is how businesses actually stay in business. Imagine that.

  • http://homebodies.ecrater.com Homebodies

    It should be optional. Some sites just want to offer a product at a reasonalble price and have it shown to people searching for it… wheather or not it has been tweeted, faved, stumbled, plus1’ed etc. Some sites and pages are wanting to gain popularity, some are just looking for the 1 person who is looking for a specific item.

  • http://www.colibrisdesign.com Tucson Web Design

    I think it is definitely a understandable concern that it may lead to more clicks, but not increased conversion rates. I think that you should be able to choose, simply because it is always better to have an option than to be forced to do something.

  • http://marketsecrets.biz Caleb Market Secrets Blogget

    If you choose ads to be shown in search results only then thats the ONLY place they should be shown at period!

    Now on the other hand, you could definitely get more clicks but those clicks come at more cost so it all boils down to the type of thing being advertised along with the budget and choice of the advertiser…but CHOICE is the main key here 😉

  • Frank

    I think that Google should allow advertisers to spend marketing money as they choose. I know that people complain about Google and I am one of those who thinks they do unethical things, like increasing my adword bids. They always say they did not do it but I assure they do.

    They have the largest share of the market and they are the only game in town and they know it.

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