Google Exec Blasts Facebook Over Ads
November 30, 2012

Google+ Feels Facebook Ads Are Outdated

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

It should come as no surprise that Google feels their social network is better than others, namely Facebook. Though other social networks exist, the conversation most often centers on the Big Four: Facebook, Google+, Twitter and, more recently, Pinterest.

What is surprising, however, are the reasons why Google+ vice president Bradley Horowitz feels his company´s social network is better than Zuckerberg´s: The ads.

"We're trying to make a product that's ergonomic for the way our attention is wired. We don't think current social products really do that," Horowitz said in a recent interview at Business Insider´s Ignition conference.

"When you and I are having a conversation, the least opportune thing you can do is have some guy with a sandwich board run between us and try to sell me a sandwich. I'm trying to connect with someone and communicate in that sacred space. It doesn't matter if I like the sandwich... That is the wrong moment to dangle a sandwich in front of me."

To be fair, it doesn´t sound as if Horowitz feels lack of ads is what makes Google+ a better choice than Facebook, rather it´s the way Facebook presents these ads.

And it´s true, Facebook does ads in some very disturbing ways. Their Sponsored Stories have been in the news again as a judge is preparing to hear Facebook´s new settlement.

Horowitz´s sandwich board metaphor is accurate. When people are trying to communicate with one another, it can be annoying to have ads floating around in the sidebar or in the middle of the timeline.

Google is, of course, the king of online ads. This is where they make the lion´s share of their revenue. Horowitz even coyly jabbed at Facebook with this fact, saying: “We don´t have to make next week´s payroll based on jamming at users in an inappropriate way.”

As the king of online ads, Google is doing all they can to make sure that Google+ is being used as an advertising tool. There may not be ads in Google+, but Google´s social network is used to generate ads and, when users are logged in, they´re given the opportunity to become an ad. Google+ profiles, as well as other Google entities, are always placed front and center in a simple Google search. Some of these ads make sense, of course. Companies have paid the search engine to earn some prime real estate. It may be annoying to have ads thrown at you while catching up with friends, but it´s also annoying to have these ads thrown at you when you´re trying to conduct a simple search.

Furthermore, one could argue that it´s just as annoying to see Google+ results consistently pop up in the top results, especially if they aren´t the “best” results in the truest sense of the word.

Perhaps Horowitz´s message is better seen as an old pro giving the young guy a hard time. After all, Google´s been in the ad game longer than Facebook. Either way, claiming one social network is outdated due to the specific way they handle ads is a little dubious. Google+ clearly isn´t trying to be the next Facebook and it suits them.

These two companies are alike in many other ways, however, and the ways in which they test the boundaries of privacy are most notable. Google+ could very well best Facebook one day, but it´s not likely its users will forget how Google makes their money.