Eye-tracking software shows how Google+ ads could line up against Facebook’s

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The Facebook versus Google+ debate is endless. Since Google launched its take on a social network in June, the comparisons have continued: Every thing from privacy issues to applications has been explored, but there’s one element both sites care about a great deal that hasn’t been overly discussed–advertising.

At the moment, Google+ is ad-free. But assuming that changes fairly soon (and we have to expect it will), there are claims that the site will be able to ably compete with Facebook. One of those claims comes from EyeTrackShop, which is an eye-tracking ad engagement company, which uses the technology to analyze how precisely consumers see online marketing.

We recently spoke with Senior VP of Client Services Jeff Bander, who says that eye-tracking research has hugely benefitted from the Internet. Now instead of bringing participants in to a controlled facility to research their reactions, a link and installed webcams mean EyeTrackShop can get results while people look at ads in their natural environment.

“Eyes don’t lie – it’s not like we’re getting opinions,” Bander explains. “They either looked at something or they didn’t.”

EyeTrackShop tested 54 people to see how they reacted to Facebook ads versus Google+ ads. Using a mock Google+ page that placed ads similarly to where they are placed on Facebook, the data shows that consumers took in the sites and their ads in almost exactly the same order. Which isn’t to say Google+ should stop there: Facebook users tend to recognize ads more slowly than on most websites.  

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Of course Facebook has the user numbers that Google+ doesn’t. A Facebook exec recently told Fortune why he isn’t worried about the recently launched Google+ Games application, saying that Google+ charges its third party publishers a measly 5-percent for transactions because “they don’t have any users.” Facebook, on the other hand, charges 30-percent.

But Bander thinks Google+’s advertising potential is promising. “To me the biggest thing is that Google has so many venues to drive users there: Chrome, Android, YouTube, AdWords, now Motorola. And eight out of 10 Americans have a cell phone, and that’s going to be a venue to drive people somewhere.” 

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