According to unofficial tracking conducted by Google+ watcher and Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen, the upstart social network is rapidly gaining new users and recently passed 62 million users as of December 25. He also estimates that approximately 625,000 people are signing up for Google+ each day and the network will likely break through 100 million users by late February 2012. Assuming that the current rate of growth continues over the next year, Google will have nearly 300 million users by the end of 2012. However, Allen predicts that the rate of growth on Google+ will accelerate and the search company will have over 400 million Google+ users by the end of next year.
The rapid increase in new users is likely attributed to the release of nationally-run commercials featuring different aspects of Google+ such as Circles and Hangouts. The most recent commercials (embedded below) highlighting Google+ Hangouts feature both the Muppets and NBA commentators Bill Walton, Steve Kerr, Jon Barry, Spero Dedes and Kenny Smith. The Muppets commercial features popular characters such as Animal, Beaker, Gonzo and Kermit singing and dancing along to Queen’s Under Pressure during a Google Hangouts session. The basketball commercial pokes fun at the recent NBA turmoil and the commentating crew comes up with witty banter while watching a silly YouTube video together during a Google+ Hangout session. The third commercial is designed to appeal to sentimental Google+ users and features people sharing important moments of their lives with loved ones during a Google+ Hangout session.
While the rapid growth of the Google+ user base is definitely a promising sign for the search company, the amount of active users is still a mystery and recent estimates seem to indicate that it’s a small fraction of total users. Experian Hitwise recently tracked a bit over 9 million visits to Google+ during the week ending December 17, but that trails far behind the 15 million visits during launch week in September with a much smaller user base.