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Ads show how Google+ is desperate for real people

With new ad spots featuring the Muppets and NBA stars, Google is doing all it can to make its not-so-new social network the ordinary person's place.

Google wants you to feel it. The engineers, having created a new social network which they seemed to debut exclusively to, well, engineers, now want to seduce you--the ordinary, hungover, and unwashed.

Yes, Google wants you to be its new recruits down at the YMCA--the Young Men's Circles Association, the Yo' Momma's Circles Association.

The company now realizes that, in order to be truly happy, it needs real people to be on Google+. So it is tossing aside its once-proud disdain of advertising and throwing its considerable weight toward tickling the fancy of those who are amused by, say, the Muppets and the NBA. Not that these two entertainments are all that dissimilar.

Two new ads that will no doubt have rocked your world during these holidays feature the cryogenically-revived little green frog and friends and the perfectly made-up Kenny "The Jet" Smith and Friends. (And yet, no Charles Barkley.)

They are, in themselves, pretty little beasts. The ads, that is. They show Google+ Hangouts in action as simple as one could imagine.

They show people in their essential togetherness, even though apart.

They show laughter, humanity, overweight people playing basketball in their backyard. They show odd little puppets playing the drums.

You might be saying to yourself: "Aw how sweet. But who's on this Google+ thing anyway? Anyone I know?" Therein lies your conundrum. Everyone's on Facebook because, well, everyone's on Facebook. It's a self-perpetuating given.

It's also a numbers game. And it isn't. Google might tell you that Google+ is growing faster than a post-Xmas waistline. ComScore suggests that Google+ put on 2 million users in November to bring its total to 67 million. One estimate suggests that there are now 222,000 people in brand Circles, while there were only 147,000 last month.

Yet these numbers are but naval fluff when compared with Facebook. More important, though, is surely the zeitgeist.

Google desperately needs you, me and Mrs. Jones to believe that Google+ is not merely where it's at, but where it's going to be. It needs to cajole us into considering that this social network might not be so complicated, might be worth a few minutes of our time, might be a nice place to hang out with our friends.

This was entirely predictable. But the company seems to have only now realized that it can't just put a beta out, impress the engineers, and then watch as the whole world gravitates toward its genius.

Instead, it must stoop to the ancient methods of advertising, with famous people endorsing its product in ads that are supposed to make you feel an emotional attachment.

Yes, an emotional attachment. It is all so un-engineery as to be downright frightening.

Hullo, Google. Welcome to the real world of new product launches and, um, humanity.