Update 10/27/10 12:00: Here is the Google Lat Long Article on Boost. They note in the article that it is in fact a Beta and only available in SF, Chicago and Houston. Hmm…. seems to be much more visible than that.
For additional information about Boost see Google Boost – More Details and Google Boost – Interview with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps
Today Google is apparently rolling out a new easy to use Adwords product for Google Places called Boost. The product is visible to businesses in and around the San Francisco market. It is not yet known what other cities the product will be available in. Boost essentially automates and dramatically simplifies AdWords creation for local businesses from within their Places Dashboard.
The product automatically creates an Adwords campaign based on a businesses categories and information in the listing. The business sets the monthly budget and Google determines what search words trigger the ad.
Essentially Boost is an Adwords for the masses. No keyword research, no geo targeting, no content networks to be determined as all of that is done automatically. It effectively allows SMBs that would otherwise feel uncomfortable with the the intricacies of Adwords to easily and quickly get started.
The uptake does not need to be very large worldwide for the product to generate significant revenues for Google. With over 4 million currently claimed listings, an adoption rate of 10% with an average $50/mo spend would generate $240,000,000 annually.
Obviously the more sophisticated of Places users already have locally focused ad campaigns so this product is truly targeted at the self serve segment of the SMB market. Estimates are that 25% of the SMB market is the maximum number that are prepared to engage in self serve. If you apply that % and assume an average spend of only $100/mo Google would generate $1,2 Billion annually in world wide sales for the product. If the ads prove effective and rank well average spends could easily climb making this product likely to generate more revenue than Tags once it is rolled out more broadly.
There are still many questions about Boost. Where is it showing now? When will it roll out to the rest of the US? Will the product provide feedback as to likely exposure at a given monthly ad spend? How well will the product be integrated into Analytics? What exactly is the geographic area that the ads will display in? Will the ads show to the content network or on Google and GMaps only? That being said, it is likely to generate significant revenue for Google Places.
The Help Page for Boost is not yet active but the ability to purchase ads is. This help screen pops up when selected from the Dashboard:
Update 1:16: In the Google Lat Long Blog they note:
As we do with all beta features, we’ll carefully review the data and and effectiveness of this trial and may make changes before making decisions about any future expansion. In the meantime, business owners can sign in or claim their listing in Google Places, and select businesses in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago will see an invitation to try Boost in the account dashboard. Interested businesses outside these areas can sign up to receive notification when Boost comes to their area by filling out this form.