Social proof in the form of ratings and reviews has trumped follower counts. In Google search ads, anyway.
Social ad extensions, which automatically displayed an advertiser’s Google+ follower counts in AdWords text ads, will stop showing as of December 10, 2015, according to an update in the AdWords help center.
Google extensions first came to AdWords in 2011 and had to be set up at the campaign level. With enhanced campaigns, they became automated, thus technically becoming annotations rather than ad extensions.
Sunsetting social extensions marks yet another peel-back of the Google+ layering that spread across Google products after Google+ rolled out.
The move is also a sign that newer AdWords extensions and annotations appear to have supplanted whatever click-through advantage social extensions provided. Seller ratings, with their eye-catching stars, continue to be a mainstay, and we now also have consumer ratings annotations that highlight feedback on specific features of a business, as shown in the ad below.
Starting tomorrow, these ads will no longer include the number of followers the companies have on Google+. I think we can say the era of showcasing Google+ in search ads is a thing of the past, with few businesses likely to use callout or sitelink extensions to highlight that social presence.