Everything You Need To Know About Google Plus Post Ads

Google recently released +Post Ads, a new form of advertising which uses your G+ posts and social context across Google’s display network to target a wider audience.

+Post Ads are therefore an excellent way to expose your best content and build your following at the same time.

While +Post Ads aren’t Google’s first foray into integrating Google+ into PPC ads (brands can choose to annotate ads with social proof – their G+ follower numbers for increased credibility), +PAs are unlike anything we have seen before. Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting recently hosted a Hangout on Air with Christian Ashlock, a Product Marketing Manager for Google to learn more about the ads themselves, best practices and future plans. The Hangout can be viewed below (~1 hour) but if you don’t have the time right now, I have condensed the takeaways for you…

Entry Requirements

While now open to the public, +Post Ads can only be used in conjunction with Google+ Pages & Profiles with a following of 1000 or more. This entry barrier is part of Google’s drip-feed model (measured expansion) to see what works and iterate. This may be lowered in the future but no further information was given.

+Post Ad Management

Everything is handled in your Adwords account within the Engagement Ads section. Here you can monitor performance stats, targeting and post selection. Right now all of the standard post forms can be created into ads (text, image/gif, video, link, events). Christian also alluded that in the future they may accommodate 3rd party embeds as well such as Soundcloud.

  • Typically chosen posts take 24 hours to show as ads as they have to go through an approval stage.
  • Using live Hangouts as a +Post Ad is not yet available to non-beta users but will likely be released publicly. ASOS recently tried this medium and found that 70% of their viewers were watching via a +Post Ad!

Triggering Ads & Payment Model

As an advertiser you are only charged when a +Post Ad has been fully expanded (CPO = Cost Per Open, CPE = Cost Per Expansion). Expansion is a result of hovering over the ad box and there is a 2 second delay on expansion (for desktop) and a “tap” required on tablets to eliminate “accidental engagement”.

  • You are only charged for the initial expansion, not subsequent engagement such as +1s, comments and re-shares. Likewise you are not charged for impressions.
  • With posts containing a link, links open in a brand new window (on expanded Ads). Otherwise this would be detrimental to the ad host and user experience

Ad Targeting

+Post Ads have all the targeting options of standard display marketing. As an advertiser you can refine by demographics, contextual content, interest etc. You can even choose to advertise on individual sites.

Optimising Ads

+Post Ads are currently available in the same dimensions as standard display ads – [728 x 90], [300 x 250], [160 x 600] and [320 x 50] (mobile) – which means some posts will work better than others for certain shapes and sizes. Mark has been experimenting with these and is working on an article explaining his findings (Link coming soon!).

  • Christian suggested that ads/posts that commanded a high open-rate would improve your “ad score” and potentially lower costs. Essentially Google and display sites are out to make money so don’t want to waste space with ads that attract little engagement
  • Initial tests suggest that +Post Ads get a much better CTR than standard display ads, though it was agreed that this could be because of the novelty of the ads/functionality
  • It was also found that Image and Video posts were the most successful medium for expansion rates

Tips & Tricks

  • Mark suggested using UTM sourcing on links so that you can better judge effectiveness of advertised link posts through Google Analytics.
  • If a post works well organically (generates a lot of engagement), chances are it will be effective as an ad.

Additional Information

Edit: Big thanks to Mark Traphagen adding some additional points to this post! (see comments)

  • Can you use some posts exclusively as ads that don’t show on your G+ profile? This opens up the opportunity to split test without interference from organically-generated engagement. No, you can’t set up +Post ads that don’t show on your G+ profile or page. 
  • Does number of prior +1s, comments and re-shares on a post increase your ad score/lower CPO’s for that +Post Ad? We have no evidence that post engagement affects ad Quality Score.
  • Are there any plans to open +Post Ads for individuals/profiles? +Post ads already are open to personal profiles. (I didn’t know this!)
  • How is CPO/CPE calculated? I.e. how can you improve “ad score” to lower costs?

Further Resources:

You may also like our coverage of Eric Enge’s “Shoppable Hangouts” Hangout with Google’s Ria Tobaccowala


Rick Eliason

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

Rick is Reload's most senior SEO expert, and started his digital marketing journey way back in 2007 as an in-house online marketing executive. Now with over three years under his belt at Reload Digital, he handles search and conversion campaigns for a wide range of clients from e-commerce and start-ups to large service-based businesses and not-for-profits.