Google has introduced a new ad program aimed at local businesses. Called Local Listing Ads, they offer flat fee pricing (which varies by category and location) and automated ad creation. There’s no bidding, keywords or creative for the SMB to generate. Rather the ads are created by Google from the details in the SMB’s Local Business Center listing.
Businesses must be signed up in the LBC and have claimed their listing to participate. The ads don’t compete with AdWords, they’re shown in new positions on Google.com and in Google Maps. I’ve posted screenshots at Search Engine Land.
The LBC dashboard will reflect activity — including calls — from consumers. I was told calls would be recorded. Call tracking will be provided for free by Google and each time a merchant gets a call there’s a whisper message that the call was from Google. Here’s a video that explains the program:
As I say in my post at SEL, this does not appear to be a product for partner resale (I’m inferring). The first 30 days are free. Right now this is a trial in San Francisco and San Diego exclusively.
Here are my questions:
- Do you think this will be popular? If so, with what segments of the SMB market?
- What effect, if any, will it have on traditional media companies in the local space?
A few people I discussed this with tonight believed that there would be an initial surge of interest and that it would have little impact longer term. I believe however that it could be quite successful but that Google will need to build broad awareness for the program among small businesses.