Goog-411 rolls out bill boards in the hinterlands?

I drive 8 miles to work along NYS Route 16, down the hill known as Rock City, and past some incrediblly picturesque scenes as I head to my office in downtown Olean. The drive is rural and while Olean is called a city, it is a small (and getting smaller) rustbelt town of 15,000. It is 70 miles south of Buffalo, NY, 150 miles east of Cleveland and 150 miles north of Pittsburgh…it really is miles from nowhere (see this map), a market that most everyone forgets.

Everyone but Google it seems. Google has recently started placing billboards on our “main” north south road in their campaign for Goog-411, their free voice activated directory assistance service. Google has placed the billboard just south of town right after you pass the cemetery and just before you get to the breakfast hangout, The Robbin’s Nest. The road is not heavily traveled with a traffic count of perhaps 10,000 vehicles a day.

goog411.jpg
I recognize that they are in a pitched battle with the network operators, they were partially boxed out by the telcos on the spectrum auction, they are having trouble penetrating the walled garden of the cell world…but there is more than a little irony in a billboard campaign in Olean, no? That being said, it makes sense.

Local Links of Interest

Google announces AdSense for MobileAs part of our ongoing efforts to develop new ways for users to find the information they need anytime and anywhere, Google announced today the availability of AdSenseâ„¢ for Mobile, a program that contextually targets ads to mobile website content. AdSense for Mobile also allows AdSense publishing partners the ability to earn revenue from their mobile websites through the targeted placement of mobile text ads. With this program, advertisers can connect with the growing number of mobile publishers, ultimately providing users with an enhanced mobile experience that helps them find what they are looking for more quickly and efficiently on the go.

AdSense for Mobile is intended for AdSense partners who have created websites specifically for mobile browsers, and who want to monetize their mobile content via contextual advertising. Like Google’s other AdSense products, mobile text ads run on an auction model. The system automatically reviews the content of publishers’ mobile websites and delivers text ads that are relevant to the websites’ audience and content. Publishers earn money whenever mobile users click on the ads.

With this new program, the unmatched reach of the Google content network is extended to the mobile platform. AdSense for Mobile provides a valuable way to connect mobile users with the right ad at the right time as they seek information on the go. AdSense for Mobile is now available to all mobile publishers in 13 countries worldwide.

Interview with Chris Sherman of Third Door Media

Yahoo buys Zimbra It automatically turns street addresses into a link to the appropriate Yahoo Maps page, and can dial phone numbers inside a message with a single click.

Nokia Adds Local Search Capability to Phones

Nokia to acquire Enpocket to create a global mobile advertising leader

iPhone continues to drive Google Maps Usage(Marissa Mayer) said that Google Maps usage shot up sharply after the release of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone back in July. “Maps usage hasn’t stopped rising,” she said during our conversation.. according to Om Malik at the techcrunch 40 conference.

Where Am I? The Challenge of Geo-Targeting from LocalPoint

Google Coupons On The Way? from Search Engine Journal

Local Links of Interest

GPhone Update: “Not in the Works” From Local Mobile Search: Like the rest of us, Google knows that the biggest opportunities for e-commerce and Web 2.0 lie in mobile computing and mobile applications. Overcoming the shortcomings of low-end wireless phones, less than optimal wireless data speeds and strictures applied by a community mobile network operators who are reticent to innovate and share the wealth are its challenge.

Verizon Takes on FCC Auction Rules in Court a good summary from Local Mibile Search of the battle between BIG SEARCH AND CONTENT companies and BIG CARRIERS. There’s more bluster than legal basis in Verizon’s petition.

Google’s plan for world domination by Robert Cringely has some iintersting speculation about Google, the coming federal bandwidth auction, the coming battle of titans over the local space. For those who can’t think past search, imagine this also as Google’s key to dominating local- and location-based search.

Real World Trumps Online in Local Search, Search Engine Watch

Google Maps expands coverage

The many posters from around the world at the Google Maps for Business Group will have reason to rejoice today as Google has announced at the Google Lat-Long blog that Google Maps has dramatically increased world wide coverage. You can now see where McDonald’s are in Costa Rica.

From the Google Lat-Long blog:
Today we added 54 new countries to Google Maps! We’ve more than doubled our coverage of Latin America and are now mapping three times as many countries in Asia as before….

Here’s the full list of new countries:
Afghanistan, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen

We have better detail for some countries than others, but this is just the beginning. In coming months, we’ll be working tirelessly to add more detail to the existing countries in Google Maps, and we’ll also be adding new countries to the list.

Google SMS Adds Location-Based Personalization Automatically

In a recent post, The Google Operating System Blog points out that Google SMS Adds Location-Based Personalization to your text queries of its local business database by sending a SMS to Google that contains the command:
set location [city, zip code, address]

In recent trip to NYC with my family over labor day weekend I discovered that Google will automatically (no command required) set your default location in an SMS query after three queries as well. By setting the location automatically after a limited number of queries, Google cuts key entry time in half on all subsequent queries for users like me that are too lazy to explore the help file or send a command.
I experimented with Goog-411, Google Maps & Google SMS as local tools during this tourist visit and found that when walking down the street or perusing a shop or museum, Google SMS was an incredibly valuable alternative to find a known store’s location and phone number. In many ways it was preferable to Directory Assistance as it was silent and unobtrusive. Once received as a text message it was then a simple task to tell my Nokia to find the number and dial it if need be or add it to my contacts.

Local Links of Interest

Ask removes search box from default mobile search

From the post:What Ask found in their user testing is that users would immediately go to the search box and start trying to use it. While this sounds like it offers what the user wants, the fact is that accomplishing simple things like finding our the weather in San Francisco can take 70 keystrokes if you are on a mobile device without a QWERTY keyboard (for example entering the letter C requires you to hit the 2 button 3 times) 

All I can say is AMEN to that. If you have never tried searching using via a WAP browser on a cell phone you should give it a try to understand why you never want to do it.

Google aims to patent payment by SMS at Electronista – Gadgets for Geeks.

Himmelstein on G’s Local Biz Referral Program – Guest columnist Marty Himmelstein at Greg Sterling’s blog has great overview of trends in local search and Google’s take on them.

Discussion of New Kelsey Mobile Numbers by Greg Sterling at Localmobilesearch.net. And I thought it was me that couldn’t figure out the numbers…

Google Intros Search Ads on Google Mobile Search

Just received this email from Google:

Search Ads on Google Mobile Search


Hello Michael Blumenthal,

We are happy to announce a new feature that will allow you to
easily reach additional qualified customers who are searching
Google from their mobile phones.

In the next few days, your search ads will be eligible to run on
Google Mobile Search pages (like they currently do on Google.com).
We are offering this feature – and any resulting clicks – for
free through November 18, so you can experiment with the rapidly
growing mobile platform while still reaching qualified customers.

Each ad’s eligibility will be determined by its landing page and
only ads with landing pages that can be adapted for viewing on
mobile browsers will be shown.  You can monitor each ad’s
performance via a special performance tracking page within your
account called “Performance Data: Search Ads on Google Mobile
Search.”

Again, you will not be charged for clicks on these ads until
November 19, at which time we will begin charging the usual CPC
prices.  And as always, you may opt-out of this feature at any
time.

We hope you find this new feature helpful and profitable, and we
urge you to learn more about it at our AdWords Help Center:

http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=72226

Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

Local Links of Interest

The Power of Branding by Greg Linden summarizes a small sample study that quantifies the value of branding in search. This applies equally well to local.

Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice (NY times) – Can this type of local marketing be that far in the future for Yahoo or Google? It certainly indicates the degree of penetration of Craig’s list.

Mobilizing Mom & Pop Shops – Greg Sterling counters Steve Smith’s The Parallel Universe of Mobile Search, “rumination on the now-familiar challenges of selling online to “Mom & Pop” small businesses and suggests: if it ain’t happening online it sure as heck ain’t going to happen in mobile”.

And for those of you living under a rock, Apple lowered the price of the iPhone to $399. Maybe the day of the ubitquitous, usable and friendly phone with good Local information access is not as distant as I had thought.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search