Google+ New User Count Climbs Rapidly
According to Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com and unofficial traffic analyst for Google's social network, Google+ now has more than 62 million users. That’s not 62 million active users, though — a point that everyone covering these numbers seems to have missed. It’s just the number of total users. And specifically, it’s the number of new surnames that Allen’s team has tracked being created on the service.
Because Google has aggressively integrated G+ into many other properties, including its top navigation bar and the OneBox, one would expect a certain baseline amount of sign-ups from among the hundreds of millions of people using other Google products.
The real question is how many people are returning after creating their accounts, which Allen doesn’t try to answer.
But there’s support out there for Allen’s latest numbers, from someone trying to answer the usage question. Last week, comScore told us that G+ had grown to 67 million monthly unique visitors in November, up 2 million from October. That’s significantly more than the 50 million total users that Allen reported at the end of the month.
The reason could be that the web measurement firm’s methodology includes sampling browsing habits from people who have monitoring software installed on their computers. It has been measuring traffic to plus.google.com, meaning it counts anyone who clicks through within a given month, but not G+ related traffic elsewhere. Thus, while it does show active usage, it is not measuring users, just visitors.
What can we take away from Allen’s new data, given the remaining question? Growth could be accelerating: more people are signing up now than in previous months, with nearly a quarter of the total user base in December alone, and around 625,000 new users per day at this point. One assumes that at least some of that acceleration is due to engagement (people using the service and inviting new friends to join, who then also start using it regularly. Coupled with comScore’s numbers and you can guess that the site is growing both in total size and engagement.
Allen’s big conclusion, based on the most recent growth increases, is that the service could reach 400 million users by the end of 2012. If that turns out to be the case, I’m sure active usage will also be increasing. But the question remains the same: how many G+ users stay active?
Next up in the G+ traffic saga: product head Bradley Horowitz has promised new numbers that aregoing to shock everybody. Let’s hope they includes monthly active user counts and not raw sign-up totals like the 40 million number Google previously released in September.
For Google+, User Count Is A Journey Not A Race
That’s a good thing because Google+ missed the starting gun. And its ”invite only” launch strategy saw all its disconnect users flailing independently. But in the long run that might not matter much, because Google+ doesn’t need a critical mass or tons of engagement. It needs signups so it can get its identity layer under users of its other products. That way it can turn everyone’s searches, mapping, email, and more into fuel for its ad targeting engine.
While the 62 million count cited today by analyst Paul Allen might not sound like much, it’s a start, and the projected 293 million count by the end of 2012 is important. Our writer Eric Eldon breaks down that Allen’s count is of total users, not active ones. That’s worse, but the good news for Google is that the sign up rate is increasing. Its variety of in-roads to the service including the top navigation bar across Google products are work.
With enough cajoling, users are registering even if their social network needs are already being met by Facebook and Twitter.
Google may never beat those services in terms of engagement with a content stream. That’s even while taking a differentiated macronetwork approach of letting you efficiently manage Circles of any type of relationship from best friends, to loose acquaintances, to followed celebrities. But that’s fine because Google isn’t a dedicated social company out to make the world more open and connected.
At its core, Google is an online advertising company that offers a range of features to draw your time and data. It cares a lot about making great products, but they don’t drive the business directly. In that vein, Google+ doesn’t need to have the best news feed, it just needs users to sign up once and stay signed in.
As Larry Page said on the 2011 Q3 earnings call, by “baking identity into all of our products… you’ll have better, more relevant search results and ads.” When Google’s average user can be served high CPC ads for lawyers while they search for nearby restaurants because yesterday they searched for lawyers, then the journey is complete.
COMMENTARY: I have a feeling that Google+ is going to kick Facebook's butt within four years. That's my estimate. Facebook fatigue is setting in, and Google+ is only going to get better, as more features are added and social becomes more integrated within the Google API.