Google, Online Reputation Management

Last weekend Google announced their new ‘endorsements’ feature – a shared advertising platform. What can we expect and could it mean for online reputation management?

‘Google endorsements’ is designed to be a shared advertising platform. It is basically a service which shows what companies you endorse.

With the new feature will enable the search engine to display user names and profile pictures in adverts. In essence, this would mean that if you used your Google account to praise a company, endorsements would pick up on that, and feature your username and profile picture on said companies profile. It does however have an ‘opt-out’ feature.

Exactly where user information will be used in endorsement is wide ranging – from Google Play Store recommendations to adverts for local plumbers.

In an article for Drum Magazine, David Towers, MEC, director of search and digital projects, EMEA said that “shared endorsements are a great example of Google using its wealth of social data to help drive another new ad extension.”

This underscores the fact that a 2012 survey by Nielsen found that 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from family and friends. So Google are basically using this information, which they would have anyway, to help companies. This is certainly an advantage of the new feature.

Furthermore it is advantageous for companies. At the moment anonymous negatives reviews on Google are a real risk to company reputation. The anonymity means you never know if it’s even real. This feature allows Google to prove they are in fact real, verifying reviews and insuring your reputation cannot be damaged by a strategic negative anonymous review.

However marketingland.com has reported that privacy advocate Simon Davies, has lodged a case against the new feature in 14 EU countries. In his complaint he has cited Article 29 of the EU’s data protection rules and the nature of the features ‘opt-out.’

He raises a good point. He argues that the nature of the ‘opt-out’ places too high a burden on consumers considering that many do not have the knowledge required of Google’s privacy policy and its implications.

As far as personal online reputation management is concerned, Davies has hit the nail on the head. Users have to opt out of the feature; in order to do so they have to understand what they are opting out of. Most people aren’t familiar with the intricacies of Google’s privacy policy.

Knowledge is power, and ignorance is not always bliss. If you don’t understand your rights, then this feature could be used without your knowledge. You could be accidentally endorsing something that could malign your reputation and Google could simply argue that you didn’t choose to opt out.

Therefore when thinking of how to protect your online reputation you have to remember that knowledge is power.

For more information about how to manage your online reputation contact Simon Wadsworth on email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8689.