Since the Wall Street Journal has published that Google+ users engagement is the lowest among the different social networking sites, the web has chewed the story’s details from all angles. Some claimed this is a result of unnatural growth, some claimed we have to give Google+ more time and some just ridiculed it.
Now, a week after the story went VERY public, Google is finally responding. In an interview to Nick Bilton from the New York Times (which also was in the headlines lately), Google’s senior engineering vice president Vic Gundotra has referred to comScore’s stats which highlighted in the WSJ for the first time.
But on the contrary to the research firm numbers which basically portray Google+ as a social desert, Gundotra is claiming that according to Google’s internal measurement stats (I wonder if they are using Google Analytics), Google+ is not a desert at all. In fact, it is more like an oasis…:
“Not only is Google Plus not a ghost town, we have never seen anything grow this fast. Ever.”
To back up this statement, Gundotra even released some numbers to Nick Bilton- Google+ enhanced products approximately generates 50 million daily active users and 100 million monthly active users. Wow! 50 million daily and 100 million monthly! Supposedly, These are really impressing numbers! Or do they?
Pay attention to the definition Google+ enhanced products. Apparently, those enhanced products also constitute the most popular video site online, YouTube, the Android Marketplace (which now already became Google Play) and the company’s search engine (small fact: the number one site worldwide, according to Alexa rank).
Google continues to supply blurry numbers after its CEO and founder Larry Page also provided unclear stats about the social network users engagement rate, back on January. When adding more web properties into the equation, especially so popular ones like YouTube and the search engine, there’s no way to know the real numbers of Google+ by itself.
But why aren’t they publishing Google+ numbers alone? According to Gundotra, from the company’s perspective Google+ is just additional social layer on top of all the company’s products, so these stats are simply meaningless. I assume that if the actual numbers were higher, all of a sudden they wouldn’t have been so meaningless after all…
In the end of the interview, Gundotra basically confirmed my claim why Google needs a social network as well (besides of helping the users of course)- Better advertising. He is stating that an ad with a social annotation (+1 for that matter) benefit from an increase of 5%-10% in CTR.
I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with creating better ad products by using social signals. I do think there’s a lot of wrong with creating a social network JUST for ad products. Luckily, we are not there. Yet.