Google Boost – Interview with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps

Google rolled out their new local ad product, Boost, this morning. I just got off of the phone with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps and Deanna Yick, Global Communications Google who answered a number of questions for me.

Chikai Ohazama is currently focused on local and geo local focused on monetization opportunities. He has been with Google for came over to them with Keyhole acquisition and was its co-founder.

Chikai Ohazama:
Boost was released with some hiccups in the rollout this morning so it was available nationwide. If folks signed up, they will be allowed to keep it. However, we have rolled it back to just San Francisco, Houston and Chicago.

Deanna Yick:
It is the same strategy as with Places Tags, rolling out to a few cities and then more widely.

Mike: While you call it a Beta, it is essentially the final form?

C: It depends on performance. We are experimenting with Boost and will assess it based on business (and user) feedback that sign up for it.

The product is meant for the small local business to make their online buying experience simpler.

The core idea is a simple on line ad for small business so that they can leverage the tool and value.

M: Title of the ad is just the Business Name which seems to be a critical limitation when competing with other AdWord ads:

C: The core idea is simplicity. Set and forget. Doing a lot of testing to make sure that it does well to meet the need of that group.

Our goal is to balance the user needs and performance and we are attempting to make it work well.

Google is trying to optimize the campaign and keywords. We are playing that role for them. One of those judgments is to figure out what the right thing to put on the title line.

M: Will it put the ad at a competitve disadvanatge?

C: Google is testing to see what works,

The key point is giving small businesses better tools to help their business. First with Tags, now with Boost. Our goal is to make it a great experience.

M:Talking about a great experience, there is currently a lot of disatisfaction about the basics of the listing process being expressed in the forums and at my blog.

C: We are working on improving it all the time.

M: It seems worse now than 6 months ago with the lost reviews, the duplicate removal issues etc.

C: We are looking for feedback all the time. We will take that and look into more thouroughly.

M: Can you share any uptake numbers on Tags?

C: in the thousands

M: That is a big range from 999 to 999,9999. Can you help narrow that down somehwat?

C: in the thousands

M: Are you still testing Tags?

C: Tags has rolled out nationally but we are looking at improving all the time.

M: Do you think that Boost will surpass Tags in adoption?

C: It will be key part of the full story. They (Places, Tags & Boost) all work together. It fills organic needs with Places, highlights with Tags and increased visiblity with Boost.

It should be viewed as part of the whole

M: Does this represent the full monetization effort for Maps?

C: It depends on the success of these. We will continue to add more depending on how these do. But they are and will be designed to fit and compliment each other.

M: re: Geotargeting; Assuming an ad is placed in San Francisco how far afield will it show?

C:We will target it by keywords plus some range around. It is 15 mile area targeted around the city limits currently. It is something that we are experimenting with and think it will be different in different cities.

M: Will Boost ads show on content network?

C: Just on Google and Gmaps

M: How well will the product be integrated into Analytics? Does it creates own campaign? How much stats do you get and how do you pull it out?

Its primary analytics interface is meant to be via the Places Dashbaord

If you are sohphisticated these will show up in Analytics but that is not the intention of the product. It is designed for simplicity for the SMB.

D: You are signing up for Boost thru Places. It will show up in Adwords… you can see the more detailed metrics in the Adwords account as Google is creating the account for you.

M: Can you tweak the ad from the Adwords account?

C: No it is an non-editable view in Adwords.

M: Why did you pick the $50 minimum.

C: To make sure that we have enough profit to bring value to the advertiser. It will be adjusted over time.

We will evaluate and make recomendations to the business to improve.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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11 thoughts on “Google Boost – Interview with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps”

  1. Well isn’t this interesting.

    At the moment, in San Francisco I do see this on the Places dashboard:
    “Reach more users with Google Boost: Email me when it’s available for my business.”

    This takes you to a form to fill out, stating whether you’d like to be contacted by phone and email.

    So it does not appear to be fully rolled out yet in San Francisco either.

  2. A very interesting development in the Maps world, to say the least. It seems the wording used in your business description will become more important than ever.

    As a side note, hopefully with the increasingly paid nature of maps, the support Google offers will increase. But I’m not gonna hold my breath…

  3. Mike,
    I was speaking with a friend of mine who specializes in getting local businesses online ( a business I am exploring) and he mentioned to me that he had a HUGE issue with one of his clients in that someone had reported his client’s business as having been closed.

    There was literally no way for the client to reach Google regarding this issue so what happened was that the client had over 100 emails (via his firm) sent to Google to inform them of this issue.

    Quite literally months later their listing popped back way down in the search results rather than the #1 spot they had previously occupied.

    Another instance was that I had personally taken a look at a local business listing to see if the ability to change their information was still a possibility and Google allowed me to get to the point of actually putting in new information into their details.

    Now obviously I didn’t do it and quite frankly don’t know what the next step might have been if I would have gone further down the path but the very fact that Google allowed me to get as far as I was with no real verification was incredible.

    I am seriously considering entering this field of business but it is quite disheartening to know that if I work very hard for a client to obtain results that someone can come in and disrupt everything that we have built for malicious purposes.

    Your take on it Mike?

  4. @John Chatman. It appears that many SEO companies see all these security holes and use them to blackmail business owners. If you get a call, or have a forum discussion with an SEO expert and you DONT buy from them, expect them to try and get your Places listing taken down and/or defamatory attacks about you and your business.

    Fortunately, I received a call from Google a few days ago that my businesses too were reported closed. Thank God Google called me first.

    My suggestion. NEVER use the Google Help Forum to ask questions about your business. You will be inundated with hundreds of calls and e mails from these SEO “experts.” Semper Fi. panzer

  5. @Tim

    As it is currently configured (a dead simple, dashboard click) it appears to only be available IF it is created via the dashboard. Currently the dashboard offers no multi level access so the answer appears to be “only if you have access to the business’s dashboard”.

  6. Ok. After over a month of Boost, I can report that I stopped using it. No way to block IP addresses. Most, if not all of my clicks, were from competitors, based upon IP addresses.

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