When Google introduced “local extensions” in July I wasn’t paying close attention I suppose. But upon revisitation it’s very interesting, especially for nationals, franchise businesses or small businesses with several locations. It also represents the future of local targeting, in particular for mobile advertising, in some respects. Here’s the Google blog post explaining how it works:
If you’re a business owner, you can set up extensions by linking an AdWords campaign to your Local Business Center (LBC) account. If you’re not the primary business owner of the locations you’re advertising, you can manually enter addresses directly into AdWords. For example, a clothing brand that distributes to a number of different stores might want to associate their ads with various store locations through extensions, even though their official business address doesn’t correspond to those addresses.
Once extensions are set up, we’ll dynamically match your business locations to a user’s location or search terms and show the address with your text ads. If we’re unable to determine a user’s location or if there are no relevant addresses to show, we’ll simply show your ad without an address. If you prefer not to dynamically match addresses to your ads and would rather show a specific address in one particular ad, you can do so by setting up specific location extensions for individual ads. Your ads can show with their relevant extensions on Google and Google Maps and as regular text ads without the extensions on partner sites in the Search and Content Networks.
With the introduction of location extensions, local business ads will no longer be a separate ad format. Instead, you can simply create new local ads with extensions from scratch or add extensions to your existing text ads.
The idea here is that the system dynamically automates the injection of location into the ad when the user’s location can be determined and there’s a nearby store. Everyone likes the idea of geotargeting, though not all marketers fully understand its benefits. But one of the challenges is managing lots of campaigns for lots of stores or locations. This system addresses that.
ShopLocal is doing something conceptually similar, creating search ads/ad copy dynamically for its retailer customers. Yahoo also can create display ads dynamically based on targeting parameters.
These dynamic systems are a key to one version of location’s future. In mobile dynamic ad creation is also a key concept. Some version of the oft-repeated fantasy of 1:1 marketing will never be realized unless ads can be customized “on the fly” as it were.
Surojit Chatterjee, Google Product Manager, Mobile Ads spoke at the Metaplaces event last week in San Jose. He said that he has seen increasing adoption of “local extensions” by marketers, especially larger marketers and franchisors.
In a mobile context I can well imagine systems of the very near future where marketers input a master list of locations, an offer or deal (of the week or month) and then check off the locations that are participating. All of that information will get mashed up and served to users dynamically either in a search context or banners.