As part of a much larger campaign, Google is now serving up ads that promote Google Maps with a maplet that provides a guided video tour of Maps functionality. The following ad was returned on the local search “Bradford Pa Restaurants”:
When clicked the ad loads a Maplet (visible at this url) that provides a series of three folksy, first person “I love Google Maps” promotional videos that overview finding routes, getting store information and picking a business (not a locksmith btw).
The videos are a low key, easy to watch, “people on the street” sort that provide a personal touch to the Map experience without beating someone over the head. They are professional and portray Maps as “the way” in a way that is appealing.
Google is obviously spending money of late promoting Maps and attempting to create much of the same “cool” factor that has surrounded Google since its inception. Today, in San Francisco, they invited a number of local businesses to an event called “Favorite Places” where SF Mayor Newsom and other “trendsetters” show off their favorite businesses.
The event has an educational focus that features product demos and speakers to educate smb’s about Maps and Adwords.
Simultaneously, Google is placing statue like Google Map Markers in obvious real world locations while simultaneously rolling out a new maplet called “Favorite Places” that introduces a collection of favorite local places around the globe from worldly “trendsetters.
On one level it is positive and necessary for Google to promote and educate about their Maps products. It is clearly part of a full fledged campaign to position Maps as trendy, fun and something lovable.
The problem Google is confronting though, is that Maps is still a somewhat unwieldy, buggy enterprise that many SMB’s find frustrating and which offers absolutely no real support. Google has attempted to answer some of that criticism with their recent blog post at the Helps Forum.
Most SMB’s and marketing folks recognize that post for what it is, a somewhat hollow attempt at explaining away both the problems and the lack of a true support structure for Maps. Yet Google is now out on the blogs touting that post as answer to the many problems that still are affecting small businesses that use Maps.
My advice to Google: PR is great but a great product with great support is even better. Most SMB’s have a very finely tuned ear and can spot BS at far more than 20 paces and have very long memories. Before you start touting your service, you need to provide some. It is fine to educate and promote your products in an easy listening style but don’t try to tell folks that “we hear you” as a solution to real, concrete bug fixes and human support.