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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Boost – Interview with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps

Google rolled out their new local ad product, Boost, this morning. I just got off of the phone with Chikai Ohazama, Director of Product Management for Maps and Deanna Yick, Global Communications Google who answered a number of questions for me.

Chikai Ohazama is currently focused on local and geo local focused on monetization opportunities. He has been with Google for came over to them with Keyhole acquisition and was its co-founder.

Chikai Ohazama:
Boost was released with some hiccups in the rollout this morning so it was available nationwide. If folks signed up, they will be allowed to keep it. However, we have rolled it back to just San Francisco, Houston and Chicago.

Deanna Yick:
It is the same strategy as with Places Tags, rolling out to a few cities and then more widely.

Mike: While you call it a Beta, it is essentially the final form?

C: It depends on performance. We are experimenting with Boost and will assess it based on business (and user) feedback that sign up for it.

The product is meant for the small local business to make their online buying experience simpler.

The core idea is a simple on line ad for small business so that they can leverage the tool and value.

M: Title of the ad is just the Business Name which seems to be a critical limitation when competing with other AdWord ads:

C: The core idea is simplicity. Set and forget. Doing a lot of testing to make sure that it does well to meet the need of that group.

Our goal is to balance the user needs and performance and we are attempting to make it work well.

Google is trying to optimize the campaign and keywords. We are playing that role for them. One of those judgments is to figure out what the right thing to put on the title line.

M: Will it put the ad at a competitve disadvanatge?

C: Google is testing to see what works,

The key point is giving small businesses better tools to help their business. First with Tags, now with Boost. Our goal is to make it a great experience.

M:Talking about a great experience, there is currently a lot of disatisfaction about the basics of the listing process being expressed in the forums and at my blog.

C: We are working on improving it all the time.

M: It seems worse now than 6 months ago with the lost reviews, the duplicate removal issues etc.

C: We are looking for feedback all the time. We will take that and look into more thouroughly.

M: Can you share any uptake numbers on Tags?

C: in the thousands

M: That is a big range from 999 to 999,9999. Can you help narrow that down somehwat?

C: in the thousands

M: Are you still testing Tags?

C: Tags has rolled out nationally but we are looking at improving all the time.

M: Do you think that Boost will surpass Tags in adoption?

C: It will be key part of the full story. They (Places, Tags & Boost) all work together. It fills organic needs with Places, highlights with Tags and increased visiblity with Boost.

It should be viewed as part of the whole

M: Does this represent the full monetization effort for Maps?

C: It depends on the success of these. We will continue to add more depending on how these do. But they are and will be designed to fit and compliment each other.

M: re: Geotargeting; Assuming an ad is placed in San Francisco how far afield will it show?

C:We will target it by keywords plus some range around. It is 15 mile area targeted around the city limits currently. It is something that we are experimenting with and think it will be different in different cities.

M: Will Boost ads show on content network?

C: Just on Google and Gmaps

M: How well will the product be integrated into Analytics? Does it creates own campaign? How much stats do you get and how do you pull it out?

Its primary analytics interface is meant to be via the Places Dashbaord

If you are sohphisticated these will show up in Analytics but that is not the intention of the product. It is designed for simplicity for the SMB.

D: You are signing up for Boost thru Places. It will show up in Adwords… you can see the more detailed metrics in the Adwords account as Google is creating the account for you.

M: Can you tweak the ad from the Adwords account?

C: No it is an non-editable view in Adwords.

M: Why did you pick the $50 minimum.

C: To make sure that we have enough profit to bring value to the advertiser. It will be adjusted over time.

We will evaluate and make recomendations to the business to improve.