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Google’s Google+ strategy: Evil, but still working

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Remember when Google started forcing its users to create Google+ profiles? Last year, Google implemented a feature requiring users who signed up for new Google accounts — Gmail, YouTube, Google Wallet, and others — to automatically create Google+ profiles, regardless of if they wanted one or not. The move, at the time, smacked of hypocrisy, sparking discussions of Google finally, if somewhat unsurprisingly, closing the book on Don’t Be Evil, as it seemed Google had sacrificed its ethos for the sake of ads and competing with a perhaps greater evil in Facebook.

But Google can still pat itself on the back. While the move has caused contention among users and even within Google’s own rank-and-file, it appears to be working, increasing engagement with G+ in a way that Facebook may actually start worrying about.

According to the Wall Street Journal, integration across Google’s services into Google+ has resulted in 235 million people using Google+ features as of last month, up from 150 million last June. That correlates with increased click-through rates on brands Google+ Pages, ranging between two percent and 15 percent.

And Google executives promise that more integration is coming, as Google slowly but surely redefines its product around its social network, all in the hope of pulling people away from Facebook.

Google competes directly with Facebook for ad dollars based on how users interact with content on their sites. While Google makes $40 billion annually based on advertising across their myriad services and platforms, Facebook is better equipped to direct ads at individuals based on their personal activities, tying those habits to their real names. While Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering and Google+ head Vic Gundotra has in the past assured users that Google doesn’t intend on using people’s real names to craft advertising, linking search habits, restaurant recommendations, and +1s better enables the company to direct people to products they may like.

This, of course, should surprise no one, as Google’s app ecosystem is quickly becoming ubiquitous. One thing, however, is certain: Google has no intention of changing course now, especially when it means positive growth for their social network.

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