In an effort to help advertisers get more clickthroughs on ads, Google announced that its +1 button will begin appearing on display ads starting today.

The idea behind this feature – which was originally announced in September – is that if a user sees a banner ad and likes it that he or she will want to share it with friends. As unlikely as that seems, the new functionality has potential to change the way people view advertising, according to Dan Friedman, an AdWords product marketing manager.

“A display ad becomes much more powerful when people can see which of their friends and contacts have chosen to endorse it,” explains Friedman. This move is similar to what Facebook has done with Sponsored Stories. According to a 2010 Nielsen study, purchase intent increased four-fold when Facebook users saw ads endorsed by friends.

After your ad has received a +1 from a consumer, his or her friends will see their friend’s picture near the bottom of the ad. To maintain privacy, only the additional number of other users that clicked the ad’s +1 button will appear; the names or images of people outside of a network will not be visible.

According to earlier reports, the +1 button will be integrated with search ads, search results, and websites, and will work on images, animated GIFs, flash, display ad builder ads, and so on.

It’s fair to assume that even if Google isn’t making money off of these ads that it’s collecting data about the ad’s success, which could really help increase relevance and clickthroughs.

[Via: Mashable, Image credit: Riley Kaminer]