Category Archives: Google Adwords Express (Tags, Boost)

Google Nearby Ads – A New Hyperlocal Ad Display Format?

Last week while in SMX I noticed a new hyperlocal, very contextual ad unit that appeared above the Local pack and looked more like the local pack then an ad. Google has been on a tear monetizing local of late with the new ad units in Google Maps and Joy Hawkin’s uncovering of their plan to monetize the pack as well as possibly removing additional information from pack results.

This new ad display, for nearby businesses, is perhaps a test. And one that pushes the boundaries of identifying the ads as such with just the single notation at the top of the display.

There is obviously a distance factor in what displays but I also noticed that the business had to be open to appear. When I did this same search after 6:00 pm when several of the businesses had closed, they were no longer included. So in addition to ad quality and relevance, Google is adding proximity and open hours as factors in choosing which ads to display.

nearby-ad

As Joy Hawkins pointed out in the Local U Forum: I think it’s definitely possible to show in surrounding cities but not as likely if there are lots of good competitors who are actually in that city with great AdWords accounts.

This new ad display though does give some clues about where Google is going with local ads, what pack ads might be like AND provide an indication as to how far out of the radius of the local pack they might be.

With the advent of Pigeon, Google dramatically decreased the radius within which a business might show in the Local Pack. Google effectively started showing different search results every 5 miles or so thereby increasing the absolute number of businesses that displayed in the Pack results and reducing the opportunity for domination by a few companies. By adding radius and open hours, Google dramatically increases the potential inventory opportunities for themselves to display local ads. And one assumes that over time the reach of these ads might mirror the radius of the Local Pack post pigeon.

I was curious in this first go exactly how far afield the Nearby Ads reached so I mapped the area of both the Local Pack and the Nearby Ads to get a sense of that. The Local Pack, in typical Pigeon fashion, showed the furthest result from my location at about 2 miles. The Nearby Ad on the other hand displayed the furthest location nearly 17 miles away. By the same token the nearest business in the ad to my location was only 1 mile away indicating that with more inventory a much tighter display radius is very likely. It will be interesting to see how Adword quality and relevance are valued compared to distance and open hours. And how these types of ads will impact spammy local results like locksmiths and movers (and botox and law and….).

Key:

Clearly both these Nearby Ads and the coming Local Pack ads will allow for early entrants to get increased urban and suburban exposure. But as the value of the ads become more obvious and there is more inventory I assume that not only will the cost go up but the radius and display port will become much much smaller.

And Google will continue its growth in Ad revenue. Even if searches do not increase.

Google Testing New HSA Ad Style in San Francisco Area

Joe Goldstein, who describes himself as a full time caffeine junkie. part time SEO specialist & pretty legit, recently shared with me a new Google HSA ad layout that takes up less room and allows more of the participants to be seen.

Like the previous test, it seems to be only presenting in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area as searches as near as Oakland present a traditional 3 pack.

The ad format requests both a specific zip code and a service type before presenting a list of potential businesses to choose from.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.16

The searcher can then send up to 3 requests via Google to those selected from the list:

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.47 Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.28If you select a zip in which no inventory is available you are alerted that the area is not currently served.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.00.53

The new format appears to replace the previous HSA ad format introduced in July that showed the 3 highest ranking service providers only and required a click to see more. In September we saw HSA tests showing the ad above a 3 pack.

While it is visible at the top of the page and doesn’t seem to co-occur with the local pack, I really wonder how many users would actually use it the way Google seems to be hoping versus just selecting one of the Yelp listings with stars immediately below? It seems like it would take a huge shift in consumer behavior before it could succeed.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.23.53

Your thoughts?

Google Sends Out Local Sticker with Sophisticated, Personalized AdWords Solicitation

Sticker BackI just received the this Review Us on Google  window sticker enclosed with a very sophisticated and personalized pitch based on the fact that I had a verified Local listing on Google Plus. The sticker was the hook to open the envelope.

Once opened I was presented with a very slick, individualized piece of literature. The flyer showed a localized, personalized Map declaring that blumenthals.com was now on the Map and they embedded our business name front and center.

03-Page 1

As you flipped through to page 2, Google pitched the benefits of showing up for a brand search on “Blumenthals.com” and having our hours and phone show as a mobile knowledge panel. (Unfortunately for Google it doesn’t unless I add a geo-modifier… alas).

From there Google pitches the idea that I can get category level exposure and keyword search results with… (a clue: its not SEO)…. Adwords.

Despite the ironies of our company not showing on a branded search, it is an incredibly effective piece. Even if the stickers are somewhat lame Google has managed to leverage their Adwords budget to highlight their free local offering and tie two historically independent areas of Google together into a package that sells both things.

Too see scans of the complete piece: Continue reading Google Sends Out Local Sticker with Sophisticated, Personalized AdWords Solicitation

Why the Local Carousel Make Local Branded AdWords More Important

The new Google Local Carousel provides a striking design at the top of the SERPS that not only provides significant eye candy and for some users a click attractant but also leaves little room below for the display of many organic results. This is true on very large screens but is even more so on a typical home screen or in searches categories that are ad heavy and Google displays two ads below the carousel.

The display arrangement offers a huge opportunity (or pitfall as the case may be) to achieve hight visibilty at the expense of local competitors. Or a huge incentive for local businesses to start taking out Adwords.

Once someone starts clicking through the images and Google returns the branded results with ads just below the carousel, anyone who hasn’t taken out Adwords on their brand runs the risk of their search being disrupted by a more visible local competitor. This has always been true but in the limited geography available with the carousel the competitor ad becomes a highly visible obstacle for any local business.

At home I have a not untypical 1440 x 900 pixel display (~60% of all displays are this size or smaller). Compare these two branded results for “singing lessons Chicago“. Stacy, the soprano, went to the length of keyword spamming her business name and managed to achieve visibility in the carousel. However she not only neglected to add a photo (and this carousel highlights the importance of a good one) but left the ad space to a competitor that is taking full advantage. Takleson’s on the other hand advertised on the keyword, their brand AND on competitor’s names.

PS On the issue of how users are behaving with this new display see this interesting research by Mike Ramsey: 10 Random People’s Reactions To Google Local Carousel

Stacy the Soprano branded result - click to view larger
Stacy the Soprano branded result – click to view larger
No photo, Taklesons Ad

Continue reading Why the Local Carousel Make Local Branded AdWords More Important

Google Local Announces New Local Product and Promises Better Communications

The newly appointed head of Google Local Product Manager Brian Fitzpatrick today announced the rollout of a completely revamped local product to replace the Places dashboard. As written about in the Wall Street Journal in June, 2012 the product is called “The Business Builder”. With the rollout of the Business Builder Google Local is announcing a totally rebuilt local product that offers the best of local and social as well as easy to use self provisioning of sophisticated Couponing, Adwords, Offers and other paid options.

National multi-store brands as well as single storefront businesses will be able to take advantage of this new functionality with the free local and social products as well as the easy to deploy paid products for their locations. Local analytics have been totally revamped as well. With the rollout of the new couponing product Google will be able to offer search to sale tracking analytics in an easy to use reporting format that can grow in sophistication with the business user and use cases.

Fitzpatrick, a dynamic multi skilled developer in the world of Maps, noted “It was a great relief to finally get the merged and updated product out the door. The reason for its long delay was our commitment to make the product bug free the first time and not have to push weekly updates and bug fixes. We think we have met that milestone. The days of lost reviews, lost listings and unfounded closings are behind us.”

“More importantly we will be holding public monthly briefings going forward laying out upcoming developments in our local products. This will allow for businesses, big and small, that depend on our Business Builder products to better plan their SEO and SEM activities in Local.”

Brian Fitzpatrick is a the newly merged head of the Local & Maps division within the web search team. His duties, roughly akin to those of Marissa Mayer who left for Yahoo last July, had previously been filled by a troika of individuals.

 

Google Rolls Out Adwords Express Plus

With Google’s new Adwords Express Plus rollout another piece of the coming SMB Business Builder Portal has fallen into place. Dan Petrovic of DejanSEO noted over the weekend that Google had started pitching Adwords Express to G+ Local Page owners. It turns out that what they are actually offering is a newly revamped & enhanced version of the product called Adwords Express Plus. The product includes a totally revised interface as well as product enhancements that make the product more functional in many situations than the existing product.

New features:

  • Ability  to identify a radius (up to 40 miles) within which the ad will be shown
  • Ability to send the ad to a custom landing page instead of just the home page
  • More Ad types
  • Ability to preview the ads in a sample page
  • Cleaner and easier to understand self serve interface that is similar to the new G+Page dashboard

 

Step one: Select your audience geography and primary sales category
Step one: Select your audience geography and primary sales category. Note that when you type “engagement rings” it offers top level categories only.

It was never clear in the previous version of Adwords Express that ads would appear on Google’s ad network. That has been made much more obvious in this version with an appealing eye candy to make it seem like a real plus. There is no option to choose not to do so. Thats one way to expand ad inventory at the expense of unwitting SMBs.

Since April when Adwords Express was removed from the Places Dashboard and given its own home as a subdirectory of Adwords, little has been heard of the product. There was no way for businesses to easily access its interface either via the dashboard or the G+ Local social interface. In September the product was promoted via an email & a $100 coupon to businesses that had claimed their listings. It has been assumed but never confirmed by Google that their simplified Adwords product would show up again more prominently once Google had rolled out its “Business Builder” smb social local portal. While that has been a long time coming this AdWords Express upgrade along with the recent G+ page management interface upgrade seem to be part and parcel of a bigger upgrade  and monetization process that is gradually taking shape.

Here are screen shots of the new interface and process:

Continue reading Google Rolls Out Adwords Express Plus

Is the Google+ Local Dashboard Moving Towards a Freemium Model?

That Google has finally added some semblance of human support to G+ Local raises a number  of questions that are still unanswered:

google-money

  • Is it worldwide or US only?
  • Can agencies call in on behalf of their clients?
  • Will it be extended beyond the verification process to other aspects and problems that occur with Google+Local like merges?

But an even bigger question for me is:

  • Why now?

Google has always known of the unsatisfied demand for phone service that existed in their local product, why add phone support now? As far back as Maps Guide Jen, Google has always said that local was a free product (free my ass..free as in you only pay with data, suffering, time and eyeballs) and that free Google products did not receive phone support.

My speculation: A revived dashboard will include numerous paid products that will be able to be used as upsells during a “support” call. Google is likely moving toward a freemium model of local where the basic service is free but many of the add ons that will offer highly visibility will have a fee associated with them.

The G+ Dashboard for Business has been in a state of “under construction” disarray for many, many months. Yet as I noted in Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction:

…the product sports a renewed Offers interface, an upgraded Adwords Express AND a recently rebuilt bulk upload interface. The dashboard is account based rather than individual based. Certainly that is a superior solution for a multi-location brand yet it is steadfastly single user. It is the ultimate contradiction and any attempt at reading the tea leaves as to its future gives one a serious case of heartburn. But given the fact that parts of the product HAVE been upgraded its hard to conclude that it is in fact going away.

You can’t very well sell Offers, Adwords Express and who knows what future products if the business can’t get their listing verified. And Google already has an SMB support team in place for AdWords Express. It is a trivial task to cross train them to a new Dashboard (that works).

Just the other day, Google increased the visibility of Offers by surfacing them in Google+ Local search results. The product has long carried the caveat that “it’s free, for you during a limited-time trial period”.

Last June, the Wall Street Journal noted about the “coming” replacement for the dashboard that

The project combines several products and services aimed at small businesses under a single banner. It is based on a mix of internally developed software and recently acquired technologies that the company hopes eventually will bring in billions of dollars a year in new revenue.

American business is not known for its altruism. Google is no exception and as a market leader is under huge pressures to increase revenues. With somewhere north of 8 million businesses registered in the dashboard they have a huge opportunity for monetization in local like no other.

While it is extraordinary that Google is implementing human support for local after many long years of having absolutely none, I think this move is part and parcel of a grander strategy to monetize their Local product as they upgrade and enhance the Dashboard.

Whither AdWords Express?

Since early in the year when Adwords Express, Google’s simplified Adwords product for SMBs,  was upgraded we have heard little about the product. The interface was removed from most dashboards and we have seen no effort to promote it. Today, every Places Dashboard account that I have received this email providing a $100 discount and a strong pitch for the full Adwords product. Where has Adwords Express gone? Is it history or will it return when Google finally finishes the integration of local into Plus and offers a full on marketing portal?

This sort of ad leaves plenty of doubt about its future.

Google Removes Adwords Express from Places

Google has removed Adwords Express from the Places Dashboard and installed the product into its own area of Adwords. In accounts that did not have an AdWords Express ad, the AdWords Express Tab has just disappeared.

In accounts that had an AdWords Express Ad, Google has reconfigured the ad at adwords.google.com/express/.

AdWords Express has moved to adwords.google.com/express/.

Things to know about the change:

1) No changes were made to your ads — we just moved everything to a new place!
We left your ads and your other account information just as they were in Google Places. Of course, you can always make changes in your AdWords Express account.

2) You can get to AdWords Express directly by going to adwords.google.com/express/.


We suggest you update your bookmarks to the new address (adwords.google.com/express/) to get to your AdWords Express account fastest. But, we’ll keep the AdWords Express dashboard and this link in your Google Places account for a little while in case you forget.

The change is of interest on several levels. The primary marketing interface to AdWords Express (outside of their inside sales staff) has been its prominence inside of the Places Dashboard. There are currently no links within the Dashboard to the simplified AdWords product if you had not previously used the product. The only link referencing AdWords links to the main AdWords site and makes no mention of the Express product. Given that the product is now essentially hidden one presumes that Google is planning some new interface for marketing the product.

While ad creation remains the same, in making the move Google has provided AdWords Express with a new interface which allows a user to add additional businesses and allows for a change of categories for an existing ad WITHOUT returning to the Places Dashboard.
Continue reading Google Removes Adwords Express from Places

Google Testing Call Reporting in Adwords Express

Adwords Express Call ReportingLong a staple of Adwords, a simplified call reporting is being tested in Adwords Express. It is not clear how wide the test is as I found in the Austin market but not in the Buffalo market.

The option is dead on easy to implement and costs $1 for each call made to the number and the amount is deducted from the monthly budget thus reducing the total ads displayed. Reporting, like the rest of Adwords Express and the Places Dashboard in general is very limited although the user can login into their Adwords account for more details. The feature is documented in the Places for Business Help files here, here and here.

The system is easy to use and implement and will be beneficial IF an Adwords Express campaign is beneficial. While the product has improved significantly since introduction and does work well particularly for some low budget situations, there are still severe restrictions that can limit the value of the product.

I do find more than some irony that call tracking is a huge problem for your Google Places listing if used elsewhere on the internet but that Google has implemented it inside of their ecosystem.

Here is the screen shot from the Places Dashboard for creating the ad :

Like in Adwords Call Reporting the ad will include a temporary 877 number