Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

About All Those Active Google+ Users …

As part of its earnings call today, Google announced that it had registered more than 90 million users for its new social network, Google+. But registered user counts are generally a cop out, since they’re prone to be inflated by abandoned accounts. So Google also took its first crack at giving an active Google+ user count. Kind of.

Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to find the Fountain of Youth than get apples-to-apples metrics about Web site and app usage.

Here’s what Google CEO Larry Page said: “Plus users are very engaged with our products. Over 60 percent of them engage daily, and over 80 percent weekly.”

I tried all sorts of nice ways to persuade Google spokespeople to clarify what exactly that means in terms of active users of the Google+ service. They told me that the text of Page’s remarks and an accompanying post by Google’s head of social, Vic Gundotra, spell it out exactly.

That is to say: Over 60 percent of Google+ users use Google products on a daily basis. Over 80 percent of Google+ users use Google products every week.

Gundotra worded his version of that stat slightly differently. He said in a Google+ image post that the same numbers refer to Google+ users who “sign in” to use Google products on a daily and weekly basis. (See image above.)

So, if you registered for Google+ any time since it launched this summer, and you used any other Google product — say, search! — in the past day or week, while signed into your Google account, you got counted in those percentages.

The thing is, Google envisions Google+ as a binding layer between all its products, rather than a discrete entity. While Gmail may have 350 million active users, as Page disclosed today, it’s not so easy to split out Google+.

The blurry numbers do make some sense. For instance, Google+ content will now show up in an increasing amount of search results for signed-in Google users. How do you count that?

The unspoken reference here is that Facebook has said for years that half of its active user count is composed of people who log in on a daily basis. (I can’t remember a time when Facebook ever gave out a registered user count. Those hundreds of millions of people you hear them talk about all log in at least once a month.)

So nope, no apples to apples to see here.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald