Google Offers Dashboard for Managing Business Activities
There are a lot of Google tools for marketers, from Google+ and Google Search, to Google Adwords and YouTube. And now, to help marketers keep it all under control, the technology giant has added a unified Dashboard on Google+.
After signing into Google+, a business user has access to a Dashboard via the navigation menu, allowing updating of info across various properties, all from an Overview tab. There are top searches for your business, top locations that request driving directions, and performance information about Google+ postings. Knowing which locations frequently request driving directions, for instance, could lead a company to run ads with directions in media directed at those locations.
The updatable information includes Web site URLs, store hours or phone numbers. A business can also use the Dashboard as a central location to monitor Google+ notifications, assign page managers, share photos and videos, or start a Hangout with followers. For Adwords advertisers, the Dashboard can also provide at-a-glance access to AdWords Express and Offers campaigns.
'Easier to Manage" Across Google
In a posting on the Google+ blog, the company's Pavni Diwanji wrote that the central idea is to "make it easier to manage your online presence -- all across Google." She indicated that other, as-yet-unspecified functions are in the pipeline to be added to Dashboard.
Dashboard's unification is part of an effort at the company to unify user experience across the many properties. For instance, on Tuesday Google announced it was expanding the +Gmail people widget to include brands and businesses, so that customers can connect with businesses on Google+ directly from Gmail. When someone receives an e-mail from a business, recent Google+ posts appear in the widget, right next to the e-mail message, assuming the recipient has connected their Google+ account and e-mail. The business needs to have a Web site-verified Google+ page and the e-mails must come from that domain, among other requirements.
Google's centralization of functions is being compared to Facebook Insights, which similarly enables businesses to control various aspects of their Facebook identity, although Facebook's is designed around APIs so that outside developers can create management tools.
Connecting the Back Ends
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out that, while bringing together management functions across properties would seem like an obvious move, it has taken awhile because of the non-trivial task of unifying the back ends of each of the applications. He noted that some of the technology is acquired, while in-house tech has often been created by different teams.
Shimmin compared it to Microsoft's recently accomplished limited integration of Skype, which it acquired in 2011, with the company's longstanding Lync product.
Shimmin added that this kind of unifying integration adds to users' trust of the vendor, because of the ready ability to track a business identity and how and where everything stands. He said it also creates another incentive for businesses to assign identity management to a given individual or department because, "even if you have an IT department on your side, it's still your responsibility" as the manager of the business' face-to-the-public to keep everything in order.