Google Plus Could Use Your Profile in Ads by Default

use your profile in ads

Imagine turning on the TV one day to find your conversation with a friend about your favorite restaurant used in an advertisement without your permission. You talk to the owner of the restaurant. He points to a sign that says any customer comments can be used in advertising unless you specify otherwise.

Well, Google’s new policy to use the profiles of members of its Google Plus social network to advertise for products they have liked, shared or reviewed isn’t quite that bad.

New Google Plus Ads Sell Profile Info

The policy, which will go into effect Nov. 11, will only allow, say, your review of an album to be shown to friends, family and other connections with whom you generally share.

As the company explains in its official terms of service update:

Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting or following) – and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with.

It’s also true that Google gives users what appears to be a fairly easy way to opt out of having them use your profile in ads.

How Google Plus Users Opt Out of Ads

In order to opt out, users must visit Google’s Shared Endorsements page. Under “Setting: Shared Endorsements in Ads” un-select the checked box that permits Google to use your name and use your profile in ads. Then hit “save.”

The problem is that the company is doing all this without asking first, writes marketing expert and blogger Seth Godin. It’s also without sharing any benefit with users, who are presumably the reason businesses want to advertise with Google Plus in the first place.

As Godin explains in a recent blog post:

The irony here is that in the long run, what the advertisers are telling companies like Google they want isn’t what is going to build it into an even better company (or even help the advertisers) in the long run.

Do you believe Google is wrong to use Google Plus members’ profiles for ads by default? Would you give Google the right to use your profile in ads?

TV Photo via Shutterstock

Anonymous Photo via Shutterstock

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Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

8 Reactions
  1. Google+ is free, so I think this is a business decision on their part and they’re allowed to make it. However, consumers also have a responsibility to be informed and take appropriate actions. The opt-out was very easy (I just did it in under 10 seconds) and if you really want to opt-out you can delete your information and profile and stop using the service.

    Is that harsh? Maybe, but toughen up people!

    • Certainly, they have the right to do it, Robert. The question is whether it is a wise business move. I agree there are times businesses must make tough calls, and I absolutely agree that every business needs to make enough money to operate and certainly has the right to a healthy profit. The question is whether Google gains in the long run. I can tell you the reaction of many of the users I came across either in commentary or that I spoke to directly. And it is the kind of sentiment I, as a business owner, might worry a bit about if I were still in early days and competing for attention against a large established competitor that’s practically a household name. I may change my mind about it. That’s just my two cents for now. 🙂

      • Shawn: I am not sure it is a wise move by Google. How will I get paid if Google use my profile in an ad?! 😉

    • I think that it is okay as long as there is an opt-out option. It gives you the freedom to put your information out there or just keep it to yourself. Robert is right when he said that people should be informed about this. It is okay to do this as long as G+ has the user’s consent.

    • Robert: I agree with your view. Is it not the same with your profile and your likes and ads on Facebook?

  2. It’s also true that Google gives users a fairly easy way to opt out of having them use your profile in ads. You have the freedom of choice.

  3. Shawn,

    I never knew I can actually disable that! I’ve just disabled it and Google Plus shows “When you disable this setting, your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations.”

    But of course! I definitely won’t recommend something I never buy or use 🙂

    I click it right away – online privacy FTW!