Google Offers New ‘Simple’ Ads for SMBs

Picture 255Google 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.

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21 Responses to “Google Offers New ‘Simple’ Ads for SMBs”

  1. predictabuy Says:

    Hi Greg,

    I think:

    1) this likely confirms my speculation that the place pages are really intended to be easily (machine) optimized landing pages;

    2) that intelligent automated targeting for local advertising can be very effective – I’ve been researching and testing algorithms of this type for some time now – I can give you some insight if you’re interested. But let’s just say that especially with the breadth of data Google has they will be able to do a very good job of this;

    3) that local advertisers are the ones who can truly benefit from highly targeted mobile advertising (rather than national or brand advertisers) – so being able to reach these advertisers and effectively target their ads is a big deal – and Google knows this; and

    4) time is on their side — a simplified and effective local advertising product with transparent metrics is something small and medium businesses are desperately seeking. They are looking for answers and Google is positioning themselves to be that solution. They can afford to wait for the businesses to come to them.

    Seems pretty significant to me.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Eric:

    Thanks for the analysis. My reaction is that this could prove to be a major turning point in their monetization vis-a-vis local businesses. We’ll have to see how it plays out however.

  3. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    Given the way that the ads are dispalyed with the pin AND the pin placement on the ad, they will have signicant adoption. The pricing will detrmine long term acceptance but if it is reasonable then adoption will be strong.

    It will give early adopters a solid advantage. It will also offer real metrics for call tracking for the first time to many businesses that will reinforce the success (or not). If Google includes some of this info in their new report that they mail monthly it could really engage folks and suck them into ( in a positive sticky) to a whole new level of engagement.

  4. Google Intors Local Listing Ads to LBC in Limited Markets | Understanding Google Maps & Local Search Says:

    [...] offer call tracking and reporting. Greg Sterling has reported on this at both SearchEnginland and Screenwerks where he noted that it din’t appear that this ad type would be available through resellers. [...]

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Mike. You’re in a stronger position than I assess adoption on a practical level.

  6. Mike Bunnell Says:

    I think this is a great opportunity for small businesses. Of course actual performance will determine how good a deal it is. I see future pitfalls around increased adoption; big potential for complaints when the fixed price is raised or the traffic starts to be rationed. I’m sure Google is smart enough to throttle traffic from the start to manage increased adoption, but we’ll see.

    From a Google strategy perspective, this seems like a great incentive to get more LBC adoption…

  7. Tim Cohn Says:

    Who is running this program within Google – a Maps or Adwords team, the “Local Business Center” team, a new team or a not yet formed team?

  8. Greg Sterling Says:

    Tim: don’t know but think the LBC..

  9. Tim Cohn Says:

    Any ideas how many are on the LBC team?

  10. Google Local Business Center Testing Local Listing Ads « Search Marketing Communications Says:

    [...] Local Business Center Testing Local Listing Ads By Tim Cohn Greg Sterling reports on his blog and at Search Engine Land about Google’s announcing their new local advertising [...]

  11. Peter Adams Weblog» Blog Archive » Google Offers ‘Simple’ Ads for Small Businesses Says:

    [...] has a good post about Google’s New ‘Simple’ Ads for small [...]

  12. Mihmorandum | SMX East Local Items of Interest | Uncategorized Says:

    [...] you probably heard on Greg Sterling’s or Mike Blumenthal’s blog, Google announced what has the potential to be a wildly successful [...]

  13. JFoerch Says:

    one thing…..upon opening up a San Diego client of mine’s Local Business Center I was quickly able to see that the “Create an Ad” Link next to the listing edit function. Not gonna lie….I got pretty ecstatic about the opportunity to get my two San Diego clients listed on this program. Then I noticed the catch….Google wants me to change the Categories to the preselected categories they have in their own taxonomy. This would greatly depreciate the value of both of my accounts Local Listings in that they both pull in over 200 interactions a month off of their single listings. I doubt that changing my keyword-rich categories to something more broad and generalized will be of any benefit to my clients in the near future. I think I will be holding off on this function until Google loosens their policy on allowing you to pick your own categories (as in the LBL) rather than the preselected Google categories that they are testing this out with. Thanks for writing this up Greg!

  14. More Info on Google Local Listing Ads « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] morning I had a chance to speak again with Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm about Google’s new Local Listing Ads. Since the announcement Mike had a chance to speak to someone from Google at the SMX event. Mike [...]

  15. Mihmorandum | My Thoughts on Google Local Listing Ads | Google Says:

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  16. Google Local Listing Ads: Summary of articles & resources | Understanding Google Maps & Local Search Says:

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  17. Thoughts & Effects of Google Local Listing Ads on PPC | Renegade Search Says:

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  18. Google Offers New ‘Simple’ Ads for SMBs « Business Field Says:

    [...] Businesses must be signed up in the LBC and have claimed their listing to participate. The ads don’t compete withSource: Screenwerk RSS Feed [...]

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  21. Thoughts & Effects of Google Local Listing Ads on PPC | Says:

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