Google Intros Local Listing Ads to LBC in Limited Markets

Google has started a limited rollout of a new fixed price SMB ad type in the San Diego and San Francisco market. The ad, which a new type of ad,  which will be highlighted with a pushpin both on the ad and on the 10 Pack Map will be located directly above the 10 Pack view.

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This new ad type will be accessible via a new tab in the Local Business Center and will offer call tracking and reporting. Greg Sterling has reported on this at both SearchEnginland and Screenwerks where he noted that it didn’t appear that this ad type would be available through resellers. That may well be true but many LBC accounts are managed for the SMB’s by their search companies. I think that the simplicity and guaranteed placement of this ad type will be appealing.

The ads will be automatically created by Google and can currently be directed to either the business’s home page or their Places page. It is not clear to me that SMB’s will be all that cracked up about sending their ad to a page that could very well contain competitor’s ads and paying for that privelege.

Greg noted that although pricing has not been firmly established that he speculated it would run between $20 and $200/mo depending on the category and market. Pricing is always an issue for small businesses but given thGoogle’s low operating expenses, pricing could be enticing. For many SMB’s this could very well be their first experience with call tracking and true ad accountability. It will be interesting to see  how they value that extra accountability.

In my survey’s of the top 200 listings in Google Maps across multiple categories, LBC adoption ranged from a low of 5% to a high of roughly 25%. While this program would be significantly more successful with active marketing, it offers of the possibility of significant incremental revenue to Google with no additional efforts of their part. It will be interesting to see how pricing compares to the bid based pricing in Adwords and whether the two values are tied together.

Here is Google’s video on the product:

Here are Google’s Help/Information pages on the product:

What are Local Listing Ads?
How are Local Listing Ads different from AdWords?
How much do Local Listing Ads cost?

this new product raises a number of operational and strategic questions:

What will the prices be for a given market and category?

Will the pricing be transparent to all, across all markets?

How long will the price remain fixed and when it does change what will the procedure be?

Will the price have a relationship to the adwords pricing and will that relationship be transparent?

How will placement be determined in competitive markets?

Will categorization be limited to the existing categories or will it allow for long tail catogorizaton?

AND THE BIGGEST QUESTION OF THEM ALL:

Will Google, now that they are charging for use start providing support?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Intros Local Listing Ads to LBC in Limited Markets by

32 thoughts on “Google Intros Local Listing Ads to LBC in Limited Markets”

  1. Mike:

    The part about this not being about resellers is my inference. Google didn’t explicitly say that to me. But they kept emphasizing how this was for small businesses.

  2. I interpreted what you said to mean Given the limited nature of the LBC interface that it will be a single user. That being said that user could be the business or whomever is managing the listing for them.

  3. The video brings up a few questions:

    There’s mention of a unique number to track calls generated by the ad, but that’s not going to be possible if a business chooses to link it to their own website. How will linking to the Place Page affect conversions and will linking there influence the ad’s position?

    Just heard from a friend with a B&M store in San Diego that he’s not seeing the local ads tab (shown in the video) in his LBC. Wonder if the offer is limited to specific business categories.

    The good news is that per the video, the first 30 days are free.

  4. Interesting information indeed, thanks. I’ll be very curious about your last question: will they start providing support? I would venture to say yes, now that they have a revenue model for it. And I sure hope they do: too many of my clients are having issues with their LBC listings for this to be unsupported.

    And hopefully the landing pages can become more sophisticated other than the Places page and home page.

  5. @Carhy why would the call tracking number be a problem?

    @David $20/mo for support and you get an ad thrown in for free?

    It appears that currently, the home page or places are the only 2 choices as I understand it. Both have a diifferent set of problems that would be resolved by allowing the use of a dedicated landing page.

  6. @Mike – If the ad performed, I could definitely sell that to my clients. :)

    And it would certainly make answering the question “My listing has reverted to my old address again; how can we fix this?” better than “well, let’s post on the forums and *hope* someone from google sees it…”

  7. Unless a business adds the distinct phone number to their own site’s landing page, the call volume won’t be trackable by G or the company. I presume businesses using Place Pages will show more volume for tracking purposes – which may well positively influence their ads’ positions in ‘Local’ (‘best’ slot in the 4-up section in the screen shot).

    It remains to be seen as to which slot will be considered ‘best’.

  8. I agree with this comment: “It is not clear to me that SMB’s will be all that cracked up about sending their ad to a page that could very well contain competitor’s ads and paying for that privelege.”

    But it would be very easy for Google to simply not show the ‘ad block’ when it’s used as a landing page. Or perhaps the ‘ad block’ would never appear once you become a paying advertiser? Or maybe it could just show complementary rather than competitive ads?

    I think for a lot of small businesses a ‘self-optimizing’ landing page will be very attractive if done right.

  9. I see this as Google setting the stage for the future (and hope see it that way as well). SMBs won’t by this in the short term. It’s too confusing, requires self-service and the cost is unknown until you are in the sign up process.

    If Google can’t give away a LBL (adoption less than 25%) then how will they sell something only slightly better?

    Throw in the illogical aversion that we see from SMBs of Call Tracking “You want me to give up my number!?” and I see adoption and revenue REALLY low for the next 2-3 years (or longer) until the SMB biz owners start turning over the biz to their kids.

  10. In regards to using the tracking number on your own site rather than the Places Page, I could see Google using a java script option similar to what they have in place with Google Voice(GV). If you have a GV account, there is a script that GV provides that you can add to your own website that displays a “Call me” image. A visitor on your site clicks on the image and enters their phone number to be reached at. That phone number is then called back by GV and connects the business owner with the potential customer.

  11. Google could provide javascript tags for simple text swapout of call tracking number on your website when the visitor comes from the local listing ad.

  12. hmmm….I am very interested to see how google plans on rolling out this service to the masses. I am sure they will hit the emails of LBC users….but this is going to be something that they will want all business owners to know about, and will hopefully boost the number of LBC users substantially. All of it leads to the fact that google will have to start bringing in a higher level of support on maps if they ever plan on getting businesses to stick around. Especially if they are going to let businesses have ads go to places pages.

    I think they should roll out a super bowl advertisement, and free tee shirt campaign that is ran by Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm.

  13. Mike,

    Could the recent Google Local 7 Box update be permanent because of this? All of my local business listings that I tracked have gone from 10 Box to 7 Box. Do you think this is to make room for the Local Ads. Do you think we will see these Local Ads at the top of the Local Box results?

  14. I have heard reports of the 7 pack however I have been traveling home and haven’t been on a screen to see it. You theory is very plausible. The one point I would make though is that it might be independant as the Locla Listing Ads are very much in testode and are isolated to San Diego and San Francisco for who knows how long.

  15. Please keep an eye on this and post when it is coming to Europe.

    The reason why I love this blog is because you cater for your international audience as well.

    Many thanks for that.

    Dan

  16. @Luca
    Glad to hear that it is in Italy

    @Dan
    I can only cover international when readers like yourself send their observations along. We can learn best together!

  17. I’m a little late to post on this topic but are they still offering these ads in certain cities? I have not seen them yet in Houston. The LBC has gone through a lot of changes in the last couple years.

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