The newly announced Local listing ads are starting to appear on a limited basis in the wilds of San Francisco. David Mihm, the talented Local Search Expert, and I submitted a number of questions about this new trial to Google.
-What will the range of prices be for a given market and category?
-Will the pricing be transparent to all, across all markets?
Regarding your pricing questions:
Since various industries have different levels of saturation and search popularity by business category and location, those are the factors upon which we decided to base our variable flat fees. Part of this beta is testing the pricing structure and trying to find a good balance between advertiser ROI and flat fees. That being the case, please understand that we’re not able to share the range of flat fees.
-Will the business be allowed to advertise in more than 1 category?
Regarding your category questions:
We’re only announcing an initial version of the beta at this time, so advertisers are currently only able to choose one category. As we continue to develop this product, this may change. Ad placement per category is currently determined on a rotating basis. However, we’re constantly testing new ad formats and placements, and we may make changes and refinements to our current experiment in the future.
-How long is the test period?
Regarding your rollout questions:
As you know, Local Listing Ads are currently only available to businesses located in San Francisco and San Diego. There is no set testing period for gathering feedback and data, but we can’t speculate on future product development or roll out.
- Will these ads get a set amount of “square footage” on the screen, or will they push national advertisers’ standard Adwords largely off the page for geo?
-Will the price have a relationship to the adwords pricing and will that relationship be transparent?
Regarding your placement questions:
Local Listing Ads may appear either above the organic search results or on the right hand side of Google.com, or in the left panel of Google Maps. When they appear above the organic search results on Google.com, up to 4 ads may be shown. When they appear on the right hand side on Google.com, up to 4 ads may be shown. And on Google Maps, one ad may be shown for any given query. Please keep in mind, however, that we’re constantly testing new placements, and we may choose to make changes to the current experiment in the future. Also, Local Listing Ads do not compete in the auction and instead are slotted in new ad inventory spots that have been created on Google search results pages and Google Maps.
- What type of support structure will be in place for businesses who have trouble setting this up? Will it be managed through the LBC Help Forums or will there be a dedicated person or team to handle inquiries?
Regarding your support questions:
Advertisers who sign up for Local Listing Ads will be able to contact us, and Help Center content is also available here: http://maps.google.com/support/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=23543
Below are a list of the questions that were asked but not answered directly and some additional questions that have cropped up:
- How many businesses in each category will be allowed to use this service at the same time? For instance, what if 50 plumbing contractors all want to advertise on “san francisco plumbers”?
-How long will the price remain fixed and when it does change what will the procedure be?
-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 as you know all well know for every answer more questions propagate like rabbits:
-It appears that pricing is independent of Adwords, does that mean that their could be a significant differential either above or below the Adwords bidding range?
-Is it conceivable or possible that an advertiser might participate in both programs?
-Are the changes that are being seen in the Local Universal results and local Adwords being done in preparation for this new product?
I am sure that you have questions as well. Please send them along.