Google has started rejecting Offers from Google Places for quality and policy violations. Business owners that have had Offers rejected will receive an email with a clear indication of which guideline was not satisfied. Offers that do not provide actual % discounts or dollar value off will be suspended. Google has upgraded their Google Help with a Troubleshooter Your Offers Form if an a business owner feels that an offer was rejected inappropriately. Here is a recently sent rejection email:
Date: December 2, 2011 5:27:40 AM EST
Subject: Important: Some of your offers on Google have been marked as suspended
Thank you for creating an offer for your Google Places page. We’ve found that one or more of your offers does not meet our guidelines. These offers have been suspended and are listed below. Your Google Places listing is not otherwise changed and remains active.
Offer with summary: Free Consult w/ Attorney, created: Dec 11, 2009.
Reasons for suspension:
Offer does not include a monetary discount or an additional good or service that is not normally included.
You can review the Offers Guidelines in the Places for Business Help Center here.
To create a new offer, visit Places for Business.
Offers that violate policy will be suspended. Please ensure that your new offer follows the offers policies listed in the Help Center. You cannot edit an offer once it has been suspended.
This message was sent from a notification-only email address so email responses will not be seen. If you have any questions, please review the Google Places for Business Help Center.
The Google Places Team
From the guidelines:
I know that Google has been integrating author results in the main search for a while and late last month tweaked those results with the addition of circles . But Google is now linking the Author Information image in the main search directly with recent Google Plus posts in a results much like the Plus Places integration seen earlier in the week. Unlike the local results which were in Places but not the Main results, this integration is occurring in the main search results.
To see the results search on an author with author information like Matt McGee and then click directly on the author photo to see the integration with the Posts in the search results:
Several additional instances of Google Plus integration into local search results have been found by Renan Cesar, a Brazilian search marketer. It has also been brought to my attention by Sebastian Socha that examples are now visible in Germany.
In both of these examples, the images, when clicked, go to an intermediate search result highlighting the appropriate Plus Page with an option to add them to your circle. In the first instance the intermediary result shows a recent post. In both cases the Plus page is correctly identified. The intermediate results page that you are taken to offers a somewhat awkward, beta like experience as it is neither a Plus page or a true search result.
At this point, Plus results for local are only showing in the Places Search, one click away from the main search results and thus less visible then they might be. If these results were to show in the main results, the opportunity to enhance a business listing with a large, juicy logo or image would be irresistible. As it is, this current rollout might convince some additional businesses to try Plus. It certainly seems to be pointing to much more visible exposure of Plus Business Pages.
My recommendation? Claim your Business Place Page to avoid squatting (which is all too easy at the moment), associate it with your website and minimally add a few compelling logos and photos.
On this Places Search example for Cake Box New Jersey you see a correctly integrated profile photo on all of their results from the business’s Google Plus page. The image clicks thru to an intermediary search result of a recent post on their Plus Page:
In second example the Plus page for Manta has been integrated into the organic section of Places search for NEC Store Manhattan.
The ever observant Plamen and his friend Stacy sent along a Places Search screenshot that clearly shows a Google Plus Page icon next to a Places search result:
When you click on the icon it shows a Google Plus Page for a different Transmission service.
It makes sense that Google would integrate Google Plus pages with their Local results. What better way to both allow a business to highlight the Page’s presence and incent other businesses to claim their Google Plus Page and keep it updated with meaningful information.
I assume that this is test but it is an interesting one.
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This search for “Child Protection Services, NY” provides an obvious example of Google’s inability to target a specific ad against a specific place with their new Info Bubble Ads. It provides great fodder for my second installment of the Rogue’s Gallery of Inappropriate Bubble Ads…
There is some irony that the Archdiocese of New York* is sandwiched between Children’s Rights and the NY Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Child in the Map search results and I suppose the bottom ad for a Child Protection Lawyer is somehow oddly relevant in this context.
But the ad for the Gay Church service shown against the Archdiocese manages to clearly demonstrate Google’s (lack of ) ability to target these ads correctly. It adds fuel to the already inappropriate fire that is the Bubble Ad… I never knew that the Adwords algo had such a twisted sense of humor.
In attempting to match a single ad to a single Place in Google Maps raises multiple issues…..
Should every place & business that exists in our everyday life be used to sell against? Should that specific, very real entity with its history of sentiment and purpose be leveraged to shill for something without their knowledge? And if so what is appropriate to sell against that place? I asked myself those questions as I explored some of the “bubble ads” that Google was showing in the info bubble for these Places.
When Google Adwords are shown against a full page of search results based on relevancy and various matching types some of the quirks of the system are not obvious. However when an algo tries to position one ad against a single Place that exists in reality, the limits of an algo based placement become more obvious. The lack of upfront human curation creates unpredictiable and oftimes odd outcomes. The results can easily pass from the mundane into tasteless very quickly.
The issue certainly affects small business as they find their competitors, both local and national, advertising against their good name. In this slide show you will see Google leveraging David Mihm and Andrew Shotland‘s reputation to highlight their own Adwords product as an alternative to either’s service (yea right).
But that annoyance felt by an SMB at Google’s ham handed selling pales when you see Google let someone sell their wares against icons of American culture. A private, for profit tour positioned against the Statue of Liberty seems odd but one positioned against the 9/11 memorial seems downright macabre.
There is humor as well as you see the Obama campaign selling against the Whitehouse with a desire to live there another 4 years. The Yellowpages selling against a church certainly strikes an odd note. But that same humor turns black when you see abortion ads positioned against a Women’s Homeless Shelter or Health Clinic.
Obviously when the level of granularity gets down to the local business or place the foibles of this sort of advertising becomes painfully obvious. It reminds us all that we now live in a culture where every thing is for sale and every white space is ripe for an ad placement. Google’s info bubble ads that are now cluttering Google Maps give Maps the feel of those “park benches” that sit at smogged covered street corners with ads on their backs and facing into traffic. These effectively become the grafiti of our virtual world only they are not painted by rebel outsiders and they are paid for with real dollars. The ads manage to remind us that all too often the value of humanity has been reduced to the value of the individuals’ “eyeballs” and their willingness to read the message.
Google has taken a technology that not that long ago reminded us of the wonder of online possibilities and defaced it in a way that has smacks of the billboards and signs that frequently cover the walls of public spaces and bombard our senses with commercial messaging at every turn. The only thing missing from Maps to complete its drive to mirror reality are the whiffs of the urine that cover these same walls. Although I don’t doubt that Google would ad scents if there was a way to monetize them.
Obviously not all of you agree with my disdain for Google’s new efforts. But all of you can find the humor and spot the tasteless gaffs of this advertising method. If you find a particularly ironic, distasteful or inappropriate “Bubble Ad” kindly send along a screenshot for my “Rogues Gallery of Bad Bubble Ads”.
Click to view the slide show:
As the jokes were flying about how distasteful Google’s new Map’s info ad venue was, I became curious as to exactly how unseemly it really was. So I looked.
As Glen Gabe pointed out it may very well be necessary for SMB’s to take out ads defensively. Greg Sterling suggested that Google think about a Pandora like subscription so you could search ad free. For me, Google’s ads on the Map info bubble reminds me of ads on “park benches” that sit amid the fumes on street corners.
Here is a slide show that I assembled in 5 minutes to explore the possibilities. Bing is advertising on Zuccotti Park, Bank of America of course advertising on themselves, Chase is advertising on the Lexington Ave women’s shelter and CPRProfessor advertising on the American Red Cross…. wow. You can click to see a slide show of some of these ads:
As Facebook pushes the boundaries of privacy, Google is pushing the boundaries of ad placement. Like all corporations, Google needs to respond to the demands of a market that requires ever increasing income growth. One way to do that in the absence of significant page view growth is to monetize every remaining square inch of Google.
That seems to be whats happening in Maps where Laura Alisanne points out that Google is now placing ads on the info bubble for a given business. This ad, from a competitor, shows on the branded search for the Hartstone Inn & Restaurant.
Next on the “Ad in every square inch” agenda? When visiting Maps we can expect to hear the Pegman start shouting out daily deals.
Many small shop owners think of themselves as being in more than one business. They have (perhaps loosely and imprecisely) marketed themselves under two or more brands into their local market and the allure of doing so on Google Places is strong.
Should they continue to do so?
Scott of BreakTheSeal in the UK asked me how to best handle this situation. He inquired:
If you have a business, offering 2 separate services but at the same address, under slightly different names, is it good to have 2 separate Google Places profiles or to amalgamate them into 1?
My predicament comes from a current client, a hair salon that also offers a specialist wig service for cancer patients.
I’m not sure whether to create 1 for each side of the business, Trinity Hair Studio and Trinity Wig Specialists, to target their individual service, or to create one for a Hair & Wig Studio. Will Google presume they’re duplicates if the same brand name at the same address is used and disregard one, if not both?
With the rollout of the new grey pin local search results, Google has continued to increase the amount of information from your Places page that is visible in the main search results. This is particularly true with the new Branded One Box result.
Google is prepared to turn over to your company the better part of the information above the fold and with a little work and some luck you can maximize what the searcher sees about your business.
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Here are 8 tips that help you maximize “your ad” on the front page of Google: