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G+: Snippet Advertising (Schema.org)

So, G+ recently blogged about the new feature they’ve added, snippets, for tagging meta-data through their June release with Yahoo and Bing at www.schema.org (see the original blog post, that I overlooked). Snippets offers a nice way to standardize the extraction of picture and text for content, such as blog posts and news articles, you – as a creator – expect to be re-shared on the G+ network. Specifically, this meta-data is aimed at extracting the stuff creators want a user to see and re-share for new posts like in the image to the right here.

As the comments on the release note, Facebook has its own schema in use for pulling. Therefore, the two are in competition for the limited amount of developer time and energy within many media groups. Struggles with meta-data standardization have plagued the web for years. While still on-going, many have abandoned the hope that the semantic web will be here anytime soon in any of the ways it was promised.

Yet the challenges surrounding how to reconcile the differing approaches are not the most interesting aspect of this new schema from a user perspective. Instead, I found that after posting the above link for a recent wired article the image being pulled automatically by Google was little more than an ad to “subscribe to Wired”.

Sadly I didn’t catch this until after I posted the new message. G+ currently does not allow you to edit attached thumbnail images with its “edit” post feature. Instead you are forced to either delete the post entirely or remove the link and re-attach it (the latter of which isn’t so bad – although being able to remove the image alone would be a nice add-on).

One thing this makes me wonder is if through the use of this new Schema for G+ snippets marketers will begin creating call-to-action schema that is little more than unwanted advertising. Would they see that extra little bit of exposure worth the extra development effort? Perhaps.

It doesn’t appear Wired “share-bombed” me intentionally on this one, but others might not be far off in employing this for actual promotion efforts. Why not create any array of references in your code that point to things like the Wired snippet G+ scoured and snagged the underlying image from? If a user was given two to five options and one or more of these were an ad, would they think anything of it? Probably not, but even if the final share doesn’t go up with the ad in place – wouldn’t they have gotten at least one guaranteed impression out of the marketing effort?

For the specific code that G+ scoured see line 142 “subscription unit” of the Wired page’s source.