November 21, 2011
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…..
November 19, 2011
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:
November 18, 2011
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.
November 14, 2011
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?
November 10, 2011
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.
Click to view larger:
Here are 8 tips that help you maximize “your ad” on the front page of Google:
November 8, 2011
I was struck by the obvious similarity between the visual aspects of the new Local OneBox and the Google test of the Sources display first spotted by Cyrus Shepard.
Google has been on a tear of late in local to gather photos and display them on your Place page. One assumes that this effort is on going in other topical areas as well.
Google is currently showing similar results to the Sources test for bricks and mortar businesses and geographical points of interest. What better way to demonstrate that universal results are nothing but search results rather than “other Google products”? Products, online retailers, celebrities, movies, TV shows etc all would lend themselves to the first page search result treatment.
Two weeks ago there were numerous reports of new pop-ups on the Places page to ascertain from visitors the accuracy of a business location, the website associated with the listing, and the quality of included photos. Shortly there after it became obvious that Google was starting to once again actively allowing users to edit every Places attribute of claimed & unclaimed listings via community edit feature.
Over the weekend I spotted additional pop ups soliciting user input as to hours and the url of websites that are unknown.
After retreating from UGC somewhat in 2010, Google seems to have once again moved very actively and aggressively to permit and encourage user inputs as to the veracity of records.
November 7, 2011
I was surprised to learn that Dependable Locksmith, raided in late 2009 by the Feds and sued by the attorney general in Missouri earlier that year , was still in business and still using their “standard” business model of bait and switch. It does not speak well of our regulatory or legal environment that known crooks and charlatans with a profile like theirs could continue to operate in the exact same way.
It is unclear to me how folks in Orlando are finding them, that wasn’t made clear in the Action 9 story, but it doesn’t appear to be Google.
November 1, 2011
Updated: 10:30 pm
Update: 3:00 am
Update: 11/2 11:00 am
Minor Update: 11/3 8:00am
Google has upgraded their local search results and the Grey pinned results are now live. Note in the screen shot that the branded One Box search now shows up to
4 5 images or a streetview and 2 images, although it depends on how many images are on the Places page. Google now notes that there may be two streetview images, an exterior AND and interior view. The grey “Feedback” link at the lower right takes the user directly to the Report a Problem input screen.
Essentially, Google is now surfacing the whole of the Place page content (what is left of it) on the main page of Google with the exception of the description. In the case of the branded search immediately, in the case of the blended and 7-pack results when you mouse over the -> to the right of any listing. It surfaces virtually all information in the Places page including up to the 5 photos AND a thumbnail of the home page.
In July when Google suggested that they would integrate some of the great information that’s been buried in Places it was hard to imagine something quite so bold as this. If users won’t go to Places, bring Places to them. It also puts the stripping down of Place page content into a bigger context, no more than can fit on the front page of Google.
Here is a slide show of various new views of local:
Thanks to Jeffrey Manger of TrumpetLocalMedia for the head up on the fact that this was rolling out. It broke just as I was getting ready to give my Getlisted Google Places presentation. I did the presentation twice today and it is ironic that a presentation can be outdated between the first and second one.
Here are more focused screen shot comparisons with some notes…