Is Google building a local sales force? Yes and no.
gSpy spotted the solicitation for “local business referral representative.” Google is apparently seeking to build local “feet on the street” (independent contractors) to collect information and images for its database and to raise the local profile of Maps and AdWords. It doesn’t appear to be soliciting skilled salespeople, but this channel will clearly be used to disseminate information about advertising on Google as well as collect the desired local metadata:
As a Google Business Referral Representative, you’ll visit local businesses to collect information (such as hours of operation, types of payment accepted, etc.) for Google Maps, and tell them about Google Maps and Google AdWords. You’ll also take a few digital photos of the business that will appear on the Google Maps listing along with the business information. After the visit, you submit the business’ info and photo(s) to Google through your Local Business Referrals Center, and we’ll pay you up to $10 for each listing that is approved by Google and verified by the business.
I heard about this as a rumor some time ago. Yellow pages need not worry about sales competition but this is a bold step for Google to take, both to get more information into its local database and to raise awareness of AdWords among local businesses. (Of course people need to respond to the call.) Yet unless there’s radical simplification (“just tell us how much you want to spend monthly and we’ll do the rest”) there’s still the issue of the learning curve and complexity of self provisioning for local businesses.
But this is one more piece in a diversified Google strategy to reach the local market.