In an intriguing patent application filed by the search giant two summers ago -- and unearthed by SEO by the Sea after it was published last week -- Google is hoping to land rights to an ad-centric form of the "like" button made popular by Facebook.
Deep in the description, Big G details how it can create a win-win-win situation by providing financial incentives for active social networking users to serve up advertiser testimonials.
Check it out:
Users of a social network may be provided with incentives to share their activities on third-party websites for the purpose of creating promotional information. For instance, a user may receive a portion of the revenue generated by the display of promotional information associated with the user (e.g., an advertisement regarding a recent purchase made by the user) on a social network. Additionally, a social network can receive revenue for displaying promotional information to its users.
In other words, just as Google's AdSense lets website publishers and bloggers in on revenue-sharing action for allowing the paid search juggernaut to syndicate its ads through cyberspace, an advertiser can pay Google -- which in turn pays both the poster and perhaps the social network itself -- if a successful lead is generated.
Affiliate marketing isn't a new concept. Amazon's
In other words, what Google may be suggesting isn't groundbreaking -- with or without a patent. The only real challenge will be for Google to pull this off without being flogged for the commercialization of "word of mouth" buzz. According to the patent, an advertiser can single out the products and referral copy that will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or any other influential social site. What if it appears hokey or forced? If anyone can sniff out insincerity, it's a friend.
There is certainly potential in monetizing "like" buttons. As the world's leader in online advertising, Google would seem to be the logical party to make it work. Microsoft
We'll see how this plays out. It's promising, but Google's credibility can take a major hit if this blows up in its face.
Should Google monetize "like" buttons? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
ValueClick is a Motley Fool Big Short short-sale pick. Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google and Baidu are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. Amazon.com and SINA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still uses Google a lot in his daily life. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.