Archive for the ‘General online advertising’ Category

PwC Forecast: Internet Will Soon Be #2

June 15, 2010

In a write up of a media and advertising forecast being released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the WSJ says the report estimates that by 2014 the Internet will be the second largest US ad medium after TV. Accordingly it will be larger than newspapers:

The online ad business, excluding mobile ads, is set to expand to $34.4 billion in 2014 from $24.2 billion in 2009, according to the report, which PwC plans to release Tuesday.

Newspapers, meanwhile, continue to suffer from a decline in advertising revenue. According to numbers released by the Newspaper Association of America earlier this year, print advertising revenue dropped 28.6% in 2009 to $24.82 billion. The PwC report estimates that print advertising in newspapers will hit $22.3 billion by 2014.

PwC also predicts that mobile will grow from $414 million in 2009 to $1.6 billion in 2014.

At once this prediction is both unsurprising and shocking. And dare I say it: despite its targeting and tracking the Internet is a relatively bland, annoying and creatively ineffective ad medium. There are isolated exceptions to this, including paid search — which can be bland but has proven very effective.

So the Internet has replaced the “art” of traditional media advertising with the “science” of targeting. Maybe the world of mobile and tablets in particular can marry the two.

Here’s something that was brought to my attention along those lines: Ads on iPad Perform Six Times Better Than on Desktop.

ReachLocal Gets Bizzy

June 15, 2010

ReachLocal has built what amounts to an SMB CRM platform, undoubtedly based on its ClouldProfile/SMBLive acquisition last year. The new site, Bizzy, performs a range of functions for SMBs and explicitly links local businesses and consumers who want to receive offers and updates:

Local businesses of any kind, such as restaurants, boutiques, stores, service providers, and spas, can use Bizzy’s easy-to-use tools to drive better communication with their customers. As a local business, Bizzy enables you to:

– Exercise broad control over your profile’s content so you can easily display your business information and fresh content about your latest offers and events. If a customer posts an inappropriate comment, you may remove it from the public eye and address it in private — just like you would in person.

– Engage with your customers when they are in the right frame of mind, ready to see what you have to offer, away from the noise of other messages.

– Create the one customer list you will ever need by importing your existing customer database into Bizzy with a simple one-step upload tool, or by adding a customer on the fly by simply entering their email address.

– Create marketing messages in a snap.

Great concept, though not unique (think: “fan,” “follow”). It’s also a direction that many tools and companies are moving (see “reputation management” generally and also Perry Evans’ Closely). Now we come to the familiar “poulet et œufs” problem — usage/adoption.

AT&T is struggling with Buzz.com, which is intended to be an alternative consumer tool and distribution platform for its content and advertisers. Facebook and Twitter are both “critical mass” sites where SMBs can do some of  what Bizzy offers — although there’s more structure and guidance at Bizzy. Bizzy appears to use Facebook and Twitter to distribute its messages and offers as well.

As you can see in the above profile and press release bullets there are reputation management and SEO angles here. And perhaps SEO is the front door and primary user acquisition strategy for Reach.

I’ll be going through this later today with them to gain more insight into the strategy and answers to some of these questions (as well as my personal existential questions).

Why did ReachLocal build this? Potential answers include:

  • They saw a hole in the market and are fulfilling a perceived need for simpler SMB CRM tools
  • They are adding services to their portfolio to better serve and retain businesses
  • They need more “free” traffic to sustain or grow margins and this is one potential source
  • All of the above

WebVisible Documents ‘The Great Divide’

June 3, 2010

But for the mentions of “yellowpages.com,” “Yahoo” and “Facebook,” it plays like a commercial for Google. WebVisible’s “documentary” shows the gap between some small business owners and consumers in terms of how they find one another.

Some of the local business owners in the short film reference traditional media and yellow pages, while the consumers and a later group of SMBs interviewed only discuss smartphones, search engines, the Internet as resources they use to find local business.

WebVisible is also running a contest in association with the release of these shorts. The SMB winner will get three months of free ads.

Citysearch Now Just One Publisher at CityGrid

June 3, 2010

Jay Herratti is now the CEO of CityGrid Media — not Citysearch. Kara Nortman runs day to day operations for Citysearch, InsiderPages and Urbanspoon, the three local properties owned and operated by the new entity CityGrid Media. There are also strategic investments in OrangeSoda and MerchantCircle.

I asked Herratti what he will be doing on a daily basis now? He laughed and said that he will primarily be helping evangelize and promote the CityGrid network and overseeing the ongoing development of its platform and infrastructure.

CityGrid has quickly emerged as the most prominent of the new group of local ad networks, which also include Where, Local AdXchange and to varying degrees LSN and Verve Wireless. However all of these are either exclusively or predominantly mobile ad networks, while CityGrid is “platform agnostic.” In addition, some of these use CityGrid to provide fill for their own networks. There’s also Google AdSense of course, as well as various more traditional ad networks that also offer geo-targeting. (Local.com’s white label IYP network is a version of this as well.)

CityGrid however is the most visible and arguably the best positioned of the bunch. It also offers the most direct alternative to Google AdSense for publishers, although CityGrid can be used beside AdSense as well.

According to the official material from IAC:

CityGrid aggregates more than 700K paying advertisers including YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com and Dex, and reaches over 140M unique users across more than 150 web and mobile partners including Bing.com, MapQuest, AOL and more.

The CitySearch sales force now becomes the CityGrid Media sales force. It will be selling Citysearch as one of many properties in a much broader network. But that pitch is not far removed from what has been going on at Citysearch for some time. And because it owns or controls a considerable amount of its own traffic, CityGrid is in a stronger position than some of its independent sales channel competitors, which must get a substantial chunk or a majority of their traffic from Google.

A couple of years ago Citysearch seemed to really be faltering vs. Yelp, which had reinvented the city guide model that Citysearch helped pioneer. But a couple of acquisitions later and with the arrival of CityGrid the business has almost been totally reinvented. And in some ways CityGrid Media has a brighter future and is now more valuable to corporate parent IAC than Ask.com.

I asked Herratti what happens if “a 100 new sites” now come at him to become part of the network? Can they integrate them? Can they control quality?

He said that developer self-service will allow publishers to join CityGrid rapidly without the bottlenecks that would otherwise accompany the process. He also said that before anyone is paid there are quality checks that CityGrid does to ensure publishers measure up.

I asked about what happens to clicks and calls that come through the system from sites that have integrated (via self-service) CityGrid content and advertisers but have yet to be “certified” officially on the network? Herratti said those are free calls and clicks to the advertiser. Until approval of the publisher site there’s no charge to advertisers for traffic or leads coming through. Accordingly Herratti said that there was lots of “free” traffic to advertisers on the network.

I questioned whether small publishers and developers “could really make a living” off the revenue generated by CityGrid. Herratti was emphatic that they could: “Absolutely.”

Herratti said that Urbanspoon was a beta partner before it was acquired and they saw the revenue being generated there. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to buy them,” he explained.

Google’s Matt Cutts on ‘May Day’ Changes

June 2, 2010

Last week Andrew Shotland identified traffic drops being experienced by some local publishers. I blogged about the phenomenon in .

Here’s what Le Comte de Shotland observed from the “May Day” algorithmic update that Google began phasing in around the first of last month:

I have already seen the impact on a couple of large sites that I monitor, as well as on smaller sites.  In the case of the large sites, the traffic has drifted downward, with a couple of extreme drops, and in the case of the smaller sites traffic growth has either flattened or slowed down to barely noticeable.

Matt Cutts addresses the issue, though doesn’t discuss local sites in particular:

Summary: It’s an algorithm change, it’s automated, it affects “long-tail” searches more than “head” searches, and it’s more or less permanent. Cutts says, in effect, beef up your content (and quality) to rank higher if you’re a bland long-tail site.

MyYahoo an Unleveraged Product

May 31, 2010

I keep thinking about My Yahoo! and ways that Yahoo! might develop it into something really useful and compelling. The day of the “RSS reader” has come and gone. Though many people use Google Reader or iGoogle or Netvibes these products have failed to break through into the mainstream by and large. My Yahoo! was/is the leader in the category.

When Yahoo! updated its homepage to make it capable of customization it made My Yahoo! less relevant, although the latter has many more features. My Yahoo! is in need of an update and could become a very useful and strategic product for the company — with a few tweaks and a redesign.

Why not make it a personal dashboard where users can see and update social network news feeds, read news, take notes, send email, conduct local searches, save websites and so on. It can do many if not most of those things today but the UI is not very friendly and it’s not simple enough to accomplish these tasks.

Internet users are often seeking to accomplish concrete tasks and My Yahoo! could be a kind of personal assistant in the process; this is how people generally use search today but search is an incomplete tool.

Mike Arrington of TechCrunch asks “But Seriously, What Is Yahoo?” coming off his expletive-tinged interview with Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz last week. In his article, Arrington contrasts AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s one line answer about AOL’s new identity vs. Bartz’s laundry list of features and capabilities.

As embattled as it is Yahoo! still has a trusted brand (among mainstream Internet users) and it presents a central place where people can access lots of online content, tools and information.

My Yahoo! could quite easily become a kind of “personal dashboard for the Internet.” But it would need to be pre-configured, simplified and redesigned to do so.

Google Ranks the Web’s Top Sites

May 27, 2010

Barry Schwartz at SEL posts on a new Google/DoubleClick AdPlanner ranking of the Internet’s top 1000 sites. This list is global, and the data come from installed Google toolbars and other sources.

Here are the top 25 sites according to the list:

Google has removed its own sites from the list, so no data on Google Maps traffic: %$#@!

The world’s top site is . . . Facebook with 540 million unique users. Yahoo is second and Live.com third (curiously). Bing is 13. Twitter comes in at 18, with 96 million uniques. Craigslist is 49th with 14 billion (with a “b”) page views.

Unfortunately there’s no ability to search the list, you have to page through it.

Survey Results Show SMB ‘Ambivalence’

May 27, 2010

Earlier this month I missed the release of an SMB survey from FedExKinkos. It contains a few interesting findings (based on 500 “interviews” of SMBs that have 5-100 employees and more than $100K in revenues). You can click to expand any of these images below.

Remember that the division of FedEx that conducted this survey is a printing company so take these results with that in mind. However there are some interesting things and contradictions in these findings. There’s apparent ambivalence being expressed about both print and online by these respondents.

As one example, these SMBs said that online spending (website, SEO, “banner ads”) is the top category (first chart) that they’re going to invest in. However most of these respondents also report that they perceive “traditional marketing” as more effective than “Web-based marketing/advertising” (third chart). Then immediately above that third chart you see that 62% of respondents are characterizing “printed marketing/advertising tools” as only “somewhat effective.” The survey spins that result by combining it with the 25% who say that print is “very effective.”

Why would you be boosting investment in an area (online) that you believed to be less effective than other marketing methods? But then they also aren’t so sure about print either.

SMB marketers appear to be saying they’re “hedging” or diversifying their marketing spend across media because, perhaps, they don’t really know or understand what’s working or what’s going to work.

Behind some of these answers, remarkably, is probably persistent discomfort with the Internet’s lack of “tangibility” (if you will). Print is something you can “see” and hold in your hand. It’s very simple and direct in that sense. And there’s still an element of black magic in online and digital media for many SMBs.

Anyone have any different interpretation of these data?

Live From Happy Hound: An SMB Story

May 26, 2010

Well, not exactly live but I was at Happy Hound yesterday in Oakland for the press event associated with the release of Google’s Economic Impact report.

Owner Suzanne Gotter has been a case study for Google AdWords for several years. At the event Google spoke and then Gotter spoke and told her story, which was impressive. She had a background in sales and marketing and so was, arguably, not the typical small business owner out of the gate. However confronted with an empty warehouse she used Google and AdWords to grow her business to 33 employees and now is opening new locations.

She said in total sincerity that the overwhelming majority of her new customers came from Google. How did she know? She asked them all.

Gotter said that when she opened several years ago she tried multiple forms of advertising, including magazines and, yes, yellow pages.

After the end of the press conference, I asked her about how the yellow pages performed. She said she took out quarter page color ads in three books. She added that it was expensive and while she did get calls and some walk-ins, she said the customers misunderstood the nature of her business (she’s not a kennel) and also didn’t want to pay and/or weren’t able to afford her services.

She initially managed her own Google AdWords account but now has an agency do it for her; she also no longer looks at her analytics because she’s too busy.

She spends about $400 per month on AdWords but now also ranks very highly in organic results:

She said that organic CTRs were about 5X AdWords clicks and Google confirmed that as a general matter. She was asked, “Now that you rank so well will you still buy AdWords?” Her answer was yes because she’s expanding her services and now adding locations. For awareness of the new services and locations she felt she still needed AdWords.

The agency she’s using now for search marketing is the same local ad agency she spoke with when she started the business. She told me they wanted to sell her a bunch of expensive, high margin offerings including outdoor. She couldn’t afford them and was skeptical. Back then the agency didn’t talk to her about search. Now that’s all they do for her.

Razorfish Outlook: Local Thoughts

May 26, 2010

Digital agency Razorfish just put out its 2010 global outlook report. Among a broad range of other topics, there was some interesting discussion of local (and mobile) in the document. Here are some largely verbatim excerpts:

We expect more money to go to mobile, particularly in local search. We are watching Google and Apple closely in the mobile space, and intend to test new ad platforms and measurement systems as they come online. 2010 will likely turn out to be the year of testing before mobile really takes off in 2011.

Will local online benefit from the “death of newspapers”?

With the “death” of newspapers, and a rise in location-based technologies, many are curious to see if advertisers will move more of their budgets to local online. Approximately one-third of our clients ask us to run local ads. For most clients these are small percentages of their outlays — they still use digital as a targeted mass media. Local mobile spending is still very small, and was tested by only a few of our clients. Interestingly, although the number of clients participating in local display and local search activities was about equal, local display spending was twice as large as local search spending. This may be due to there being more inventory available in local display, and at lower prices than search, rather than a preference for one or the other. We expect to see this change in the next year as newspapers continue to decline in circulation, the iPad and other devices like it bring newspapers back to life but in digital formats, and smartphone usage increases local search . . .

(emphasis added.)

Gaming, brands and LBS

As gaming and social intertwine with location based services, the opportunity for brands to be relevant and meaningful parts of the interaction are growing. We expect to see growth in this category not only from brands focused on entertainment, but truly all brands who have a product or service that can be an integral part of a gaming, social, or local experience.

As these predictions make clear, 2010 will be about much more than a few hot platforms. While things like mobile and social are expected to make headlines, there are a number of other developments that will grab the attention of marketers and agencies alike. From infrastructure plays like ad verification systems to local online advertising, 2010 is shaping up as a year in which change in online media will make itself felt both in front of and behind the scenes.

While this is educated speculation to some degree it also reflects the perspective of an agency managing client budgets with knowledge of where ad spending is going.

PaperG Bringing Automated Display to SMBs

May 23, 2010

AdReady couldn’t do it. Google and Yahoo! haven’t been able to do it. And Facebook hasn’t done it either. I’m referring to dramatically simplifying the process of display ad creation to reach the small business market. However, PaperG’s PlaceLocal it appears has achieved that lofty goal.

PlaceLocal was the subject of a profile in the NY Times on Friday:

New software called PlaceLocal builds display ads automatically, scouring the Internet for references to a neighborhood restaurant, a grocery store or another local business. Then it combines the photographs it finds with reviews, customer comments and other text into a customized online ad for the business . . .

Then PlaceLocal takes over, gathering basics like telephone number, hours of business, maps and directions, and adding positive comments extracted from local blogs. Samples of ads may be seen at www.paperg.com, the PaperG Web site.

PaperG’s program is up and running on 32 local media Web sites, including Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago, and on 29 network TV affiliates owned or managed by Hearst Television, said PaperG’s chief operating officer, Roger Lee. The company has also signed up the McClatchy newspaper chain and will soon be on some of its Web sites, he said.

PlaceLocal/PaperG is undoubtedly part of the mix in the Gannett Local offering as well.

And because CPM inventory is cheaper than paid search I would expect more local online marketing platforms to incorporate this with or without the knowledge of local businesses. It could for example be a part of a traffic arbitrage strategy or sold directly to SMBs as a product or part of a product bundle.

____

Related: PaperG Challenges AdReady, Expands Reach

Marchex Launches PPCall ‘Exchange’

May 11, 2010

Marchex has gone public with a “Pay-for-Call Exchange,” according to a press release out this morning:

The Marchex Pay-For-Call Exchange combines a robust telephony platform with campaign creation expertise and call filtering technologies to create, manage and optimize advertiser campaigns across more than 50 publisher partners in online, offline and mobile media. Additionally, advertisers have access to rich call analytics and customer intelligence, including caller geography and call recordings.

Advertisers that have joined Marchex’s Pay-For-Call Exchange have experienced significant ROI, including an average call conversion ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for many advertisers, with some seeing as high as 50 percent; typical consumer engagement on the phone averages more than eight minutes, with certain categories and advertisers experiencing up to 12 minutes; and typical advertiser budget increases have averaged 200 percent of their initial commitment. Additionally, companies that have joined Marchex’s Pay-For-Call Exchange have been able to monetize their inventory more effectively.

While still in its relative infancy, Marchex has built a significant, growing customer and partner base for its Pay-For-Call Exchange, including leading digital agencies such as Razorfish, one of the largest interactive marketing and technology companies in the world; ADT, the world’s largest electronic security company; PRIMEDIA, a provider of online, print and mobile platforms that provide real estate rental listings; and Jingle Networks, the nation’s leading advertiser-supported directory assistance service at 1-800-FREE-411.

According to a brief discussion I had with Marchex’s COO Pete Christothoulou:

  • Marchex is acting as an agency in some respects and a network in others
  • The company is buying media on behalf of advertisers offline (including DRTV), online and in mobile
  • Marchex collaborates with advertisers on the creative
  • The company is highly conscious of the “bad calls” problem with PPCall and does “call filtering” and ad buys that seek to maximize good calls

The program has been running in a private beta for awhile. Look again at the conversion data cited in the release:

[A]n average call conversion ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for many advertisers, with some seeing as high as 50 percent; typical consumer engagement on the phone averages more than eight minutes, with certain categories and advertisers experiencing up to 12 minutes . . .

Impressive.

Jingle Networks, cited in the release, had made an effort to create a version of this at one point. But to my knowledge this is a unique marketplace. I asked Christothoulou about the types of advertisers utilizing the service. He said that currently it’s mostly national advertisers and large advertisers targeting specific markets.

PPCall has never lived up to the early hype (that I helped create) but a combination of factors, including more aggressive use of PPCall in traditional media and the rise of mobile, may mean that it finally gets the traction among advertisers that its value proposition has always promised.

AT&T Joins CityGrid

May 5, 2010

AT&T’s YP.com has joined the CityGrid network. (There was already a traffic deal between Citysearch and YP.com.) The NY Times uses that announcement to discuss Citysearch and its CityGrid strategy. Here are some interesting bits from the piece:

  • CityGrid now has 150 publisher sites: “Citysearch’s 18 million business listings and ads from 700,000 small businesses show up on 150 Web sites.”
  • Citysearch traffic has been declining: “Over the last year, the number of people logging on to Citysearch each month has fallen 24 percent, to 21 million.”
  • Citysearch has 200 ad sales people (Yelp is trying to grow to roughly 400 with its recent investment round.)

CityGrid was in development for some time — maybe years — and it’s a brilliant idea. However it was also something that the market was desperate for: a high-quality source of local traffic and monetization and alternative to Google (both “.com” and AdSense). Publishers, however, don’t have choose between CityGrid and AdSense; both can be used — as InsiderPages does.

Where.com and LocalAdXchange offer local ad networks/exchanges predominantly (though not exclusively) in mobile. ReachLocal also started a local ad exchange but I’ve heard nothing about it for many months. There are also other local-specific ad networks in mobile, such as Verve and LSN.

The yellow pages, because of their own inter-industry competition, missed the opportunity to come together and build this service themselves.

The key here is not the content or advertisers or the platform (though all are important) so much as it is the vision behind CityGrid and the willingness to “flip the model.”

Foursquare Deals on SnackSquare

May 5, 2010

Will Scott (of Search Influence) just let me know about a new site, SnackSquare, that appears to aggregate and present the deals/specials available via Foursquare (using the API):

This is very interesting as a way to expose deals from Foursquare. Of course most of these are “mayor” or “best customer” loyalty deals that regular folks can’t take advantage of. If, however, there are more services like this that develop you might see a broadening of couponing on Foursquare (happening already to a degree) to appeal to new customers.

Regardless, it’s an interesting effort.

Direct Mail Drives Consumers Online

May 4, 2010

One of the more interesting findings of a recent consumer survey conducted by marketing firm AIS Media, Inc. (designed to promote web development for insurance companies) is the following:

59% of the [survey] respondents stated that after receiving an insurance offer in the mail they are more likely to visit the insurance company’s website rather than call the company.

This is consistent with other studies that show people are often stimulated to go to the Internet by some traditional ad (newspaper, outdoor, TV). This is also true with catalog retail: catalog comes in the mail and users go online to order.

Other survey findings released:

  • 32%  of consumers researching insurance options turn to search engines to begin their research versus only 3% that use the [print] Yellow Pages.
  • A third of all survey respondents would consider purchasing their insurance online, which indicates to the insurance industry, like numerous other industries, the web is now the first stop for a growing number of Americans.

My point here is to point out again that traditional advertising and the Internet complement one another. Arguably the connections between traditional media and the Internet are reinforced and made more powerful with mobile devices.

More on Facebook, Privacy & Data Mining

April 26, 2010

Here are two unrelated pieces on Facebook that I ran across nearly simultaneously:

The first is from the NY Times, about how high-school students and college applicants are trying to make it harder for colleges to find them on Facebook (using aliases), for fear of the adverse consequences of institutions knowing too much about them:

For high school students concerned with college acceptance, Facebook presents a challenge. It encourages making public every thought and every photo, an opportunity for posturing and bravado nearly irresistible to teenagers. But this impulse for display clashes with the need to appear circumspect and presentable to college admissions agents, who some high school guidance counselors have warned are likely vetting applicants by trolling the Web.

Whether admissions officers really do plumb Facebook is up for debate, said Dr. Frank C. Leana, a prominent independent college counselor in New York City whose services cost $1,000 (for a one-time consultation) to $9,000 (for ongoing counsel throughout the college process). His students believe they are being watched, he said, but “it’s really hard to know how accurate their suspicions are.”

One of the big pitches for the Open Graph is “making the Web less anonymous,” more transparent. But Facebook being the de facto identity management platform across the Internet is not so desirable to everyone, as the above article suggests. And young people do care about privacy it would appear — or at least that third parties not be able to access their information.

Real and open identity is good as an abstract matter until the “big brother effect” kicks in and others are passing judgment and denying jobs or college admissions, potentially because of one-too-many drunken party images on Facebook. While there’s no documentation of the latter, the fear is clearly present.

The second article, an interview of sales VP Mike Murphy by eMarketer, reveals some of Facebook’s ambitions surrounding data mining and ad targeting vis-a-vis the “Like” button. Here’s eMarketer’s summary conclusion of Murphy’s comments:

Whenever a person clicks to “like” something they see on the Web, that information will go into their Facebook profile and marketers will be able to use the information to target advertising within Facebook.

This is a key point: all off-site “Like” activity will factor into targeting on Facebook. In other words, Facebook is mining actions across the Internet for targeting on its site. Brilliant and/or creepy? A little of both I think.

What many (most) people don’t realize also is that “Liking” something across the Internet will enable marketers or publishers to push content and “publish into [users'] news feeds.” This requires prior approval but it may not be clear that people are signing up for an ongoing stream of information or marketing messages.

Google Certifications Musical Chairs

April 26, 2010

In light of the closure of the Google AdWords Reseller program I wanted to point out some of the changes that are going on in the Google certification world. Apparently Google is shuttering the “Google Advertising Professionals” program, which some saw as the alternative to Reseller.

It’s being replaced by a new Google AdWords Certification program. Search Engine Land has more detail; and so does Google.

One question I have is: how much do SMB advertisers (or other clients) care about these designations?

Craigslist Sex Ads Worth $36 Million?

April 26, 2010

In discussing the advertising of prostitution on Craigslist, The NY Times cites an unspecified source for the proposition that these ads alone will generate $36 million in income this year:

The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income.

I wonder how much “escorts” generates for the print yellow pages by comparison. Anybody know?

It has got to be a good deal more than $36 million in the aggregate I would imagine.

Google Highlights In-Store Photography

April 22, 2010

As part of its “Places” announcement the other day, Google said it would come to your store, location or shop and take a bunch of interior photos — for free. Now the company has devoted a post to explaining this new initiative:

The photographs are shot by Google photographers who work directly with the business owner to arrange a time to do the photo shoot. Along with taking pictures of layout, facilities, and merchandise, we’ll also photograph displays on the storefront, like hours, rating decals, accessibility information, credit cards accepted, and posted menus — and all of this will be done at no cost to the business owner. These photos will also appear alongside the others on a business’ Place Page, and can help customers (and potential customers) get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others.

As previously discussed European Directories has been doing this in Europe for some time. And Everyscape, which will soon announce interior and StreetView-like imagery with a bunch of partners, has been doing interior photography for several years. However Everyscape’s business model is based on charging for interior images. That will put some pressure on the company to find a hedge should Google Store View (not the official name) prove very popular.

This free, Google interior photography is going to be quite popular I’ll predict, and will serve to reinforce the value of Place Pages for businesses and consumers.

Could Google Get $1B per Year from SMBs?

April 20, 2010

Google said last night that 4 million local businesses has claimed listings in the Local Business Center (now Google Places). Half of those were in the US.

As part of the announcement Google said it’s extending “enhanced listings,” now being called Tags to new cities:

For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we’ll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.

Effectively this is advertising within organic map results. Regardless, as an exercise, let’s imagine what it would look like for Google if all two million US local businesses that had claimed listings were to advertise at the highly affordable $25 per month (or $300 per year). It would represent new revenue of $600 million.

Google has said it is going to bring back Local Listing Ads, which can cost considerably more (up to $300 I believe), but also operate on a subscription or flat-fee basis.

Methinks there’s a lot of low-hanging revenue here for Google with just a little additional effort. That revenue could exceed a billion dollars in the near-to-medium term.


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