Google Testing Sponsored Home Services Marketplace Snak Paks

Updated 8:15 PM with images and details captured by Glenn Gabe of of G-Squared Interactive.

Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz posted this screen shot of a sponsored Snak Pak test displayed for the search “plumbers” in San Francisco. It was captured on a desktop search last night.

Reports of Google getting into home services first surfaced this spring with reports at  Inc. (h/t David Mihm) and Buzzfeed where they noted:

The product will be integrated into Google’s core search offering and is intended to capitalize on search intent, turning queries about home improvement tasks into engagement with home-service providers.

Essentially in this scenario captured by Pete, the Snak Pak becomes pay to play and the goal isn’t a website visit but a call for a booking. Although it doesn’t appear to go so far as to creating a booking, that would not be hard to imagine as a next step.

. As Dr Pete noted at Twitter: potential game-changer, IMO.

I’ll say. We always wondered when paid listings would enter the pack. The time seems to be getting closer.

Click to view larger

Here is the shot blown up:


Update: Google Adwords has confirmed that this is a test Home service Ad and is in San Francisco only.

Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive was able to catch a view of the ad live and captured these screen shots and shared them on Twitter:

Plumber Profile including local reviews, types of services, areas covered and the status of their background check
Reviews Tab includes their local reviews. It isn’t clear if there is a minimum score or quantity required
quote requests can be sent to three plumbers at a time.

Here are the Google instructions for How businesses qualify for home service ads (also uncovered by Glenn) that details the licensing and background checks required:

How Google screens home service professionals

Background checks

All businesses shown in home service ads must require each of their in-home workers to undergo background checks by Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, Inc., a third-party risk management and security company. You can read more about the requirements in our Policy Center.

The background check process includes inquiries about the validity of home service professionals’ Social Security numbers, criminal history (including cross-checks against national sex offender, terrorist, and sanctions registries and lists), and trade license and insurance verifications.

License checks

Pinkerton verifies the trade licenses identified by home service professionals during the background check process.

  • Locksmiths need a valid license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. They also need a general contractor’s license to perform services costing greater than $500.
  • Plumbers need a general contractor’s license to perform services costing greater than $500. Plumbers and handymen without a contractor’s license may still appear in home service ads, but are prohibited from performing services that cost more than this limit.

Insurance checks

Google requires home service businesses to carry insurance coverage for work performed.

Reputation assessment

We want to connect you with the most qualified, recommended and trusted businesses. That’s why we also do research on the online reputations of each home service business.

We collect ratings and reviews from people who hired home service professionals through our home service ads, and use mystery shoppers—customers who communicate and hire professionals on our behalf without mentioning any affiliation with Google—to help us learn more about the customer experience. We may suspend or terminate businesses based on poor ratings or mystery shopping experiences, as described in our Policy Center.

How to see home service professionals’ qualifications

After searching for a locksmith or plumber, click View profile to see a detailed profile including more information about that professional’s qualifications.

If the business you contacted doesn’t have a contractor’s license, we’ll let you know that it’s only qualified to perform services costing less than $500.


Given that the current search returns a full array of Adwords ads (3 at the top and 8 along the right side) for the search Plumber San Francisco, one wonders what sort of pricing would be needed by Google to replace the lost income from the current ad inventory?


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Testing Sponsored Home Services Marketplace Snak Paks by

13 thoughts on “Google Testing Sponsored Home Services Marketplace Snak Paks”

  1. Mike,

    I know this is a test and may or may not go live, but what is Google’s end game here? This is obviously a terrible user experience as it provides 0 data other than a name and phone number (no services, address, hours, website etc) but it is contrary to what we know in that Google DOES want a positive user experience.

    In this example, there isnt even a Local Pack anymore, just the sponsored ads. Combine this with the recent changes to hotels and restaurants, the removal of G+ from Local and countless other changes in the Snak Pack have me confused.

    Is G pushing SMB out? Do they want them in but only want them to pay to play? Any insight to what is going on with Local?

  2. I think there is a lot of google sponsored “hype” about promoting a good user experience. Revenues trump good user experience.

    Why dance around it? What some have called the Snack Pack is really a user unfriendly Crap Pack with terrible ….or should I say No Information. No link to the smb, no phone number and no address. That is VERY DELIBERATE.

    Basically any other directory or search engine gives better, more informative information than the Crap Pack.

    Now this… An all ad Pack….its a stark statement. Prepare for the all Google Paid User Presentation.

    Last week I noted, and some others also saw a test for the Crap Pack for all businesses….not just restaurants, hotels, and various entertainment sites.

    I’d suggest businesses learn how to use adwords, all businesses be aware that the search giant and monopoly is essentially creating an advertising tax on all businesses and all businesses be wary of google.

    Hey, all our smb’s use adwords. Its a tough nut to overcome. Over time, adwords figures out tricky ways to up one’s spend.

    I do yearn for the good old days when the government actually had laws about phone directories and access essentially overseeing them as they considered phone directories essential for everyone…and protected folks.

    Now that isn’t the case.

  3. Curious to me that they are promoting “professionals” not companies.

    With personal profiles and personal images instead of with G+ Local business pages.

  4. I believe Google started testing this last fall, on a micro-level. It was an example from the automotive industry, as I recall. It was either in Linda’s forum or on Google+ (haven’t dug it up yet).

    Anyway, aside from the obvious problems and many others, two things really rankle me about this:

    1. No “free” 7-pack / 3-pack results. At least provide a blend, Google.

    2. The “Qualified Plumbers” language. How the hell does Google know they’re qualified to do anything but get a credit card for AdWords? That’s not only misleading, but could also lead to problems the first time a very un-qualified contractor bills a consumer who took those ads at face value.


  5. I have to add something relative to Brian’s comments above: specifically the last part of the first paragraph:

    ” but it is contrary to what we know in that Google DOES want a positive user experience.”

    When was the last time google promoted a BETTER user experience with regard to local search???? Can you reference the change and the date?

  6. @Phil
    I presume that they have been somehow vetted?

    But there will be a lot of pain if it is rolled out this way.

    It might be a different program and not a + profle and may require separate verification. Not sure.

    I think you should really let us know how you feel. 🙂

    1. @Jesse
      Vetting could be of several sorts

      Type 1 – Do you have a credit card? Yes or No?
      Type 2 – (n typical Google fashion) some sort of crowd sourcing.

  7. Even if it’s a test from Google now but the intention of its implementation could be long-term after better conversion or they have some other plans on it in future.

    In local search I think they are more focused towards snack pack results now. I wrote about “how to get snack pack results for any search query” 2 weeks back at
    But today while checking I found that Google has already made some fixing on it, but still working with Google maps.

    So I expect they are going to use sponsored listing in snack pack results for local query soon.

  8. This move makes perfect sense to me.

    Locksmiths and other mobile professionals are DUMPING money into blackhat maps techniques because it’s worth the money to them. They just want to be in front of prospects, and they don’t care how. The result? Maps spam, low quality results, and shady businesses profiting the MOST.

    Google, meanwhile, is fighting maps spam, facing public embarrassment (closing mapmaker, anyone?), and working it’s tail off (often ineffectively) to keep maps results high quality. It was a matter of time before they said, “Fine, you want to dump money into it, you can pay US. But WE get to vet you so our users don’t get crappy businesses coming up front and center.”

    I say go for it, Google. I’m sick of all the complaining about maps spam. Give service area businesses a legit way to get in front of local searchers. They’ve already proven they’re willing to pay for it.

  9. curious to see how the lead flow would be handled. A seasonal business can do a great service for customers then get too busy to call back some times since no idea when caught up. So can the flow be controlled? subs have specific capacities how would Google account for this and not wreak a companies reputation with out controlled of display by the contractor for busy times. I ASSUME they will?

  10. I just spoke with an account manager at Home Service Ads who I was put in touch with via my Agency Development Manager at AdWords. A locksmith that I manage their AdWords account had been contacted by Google HSA. Since this program utilizes AdWords EXPRESS only (conventional AdWords campaigns need to be disabled), I was curious what my ADM thought about it.

    According to the HSA account manager, this product will be officially out of beta and monetized on November 10. First major metro areas are San Diego and Sacramento. Others will be added swiftly.

    Though they are targeting plumbers and locksmiths initially, I am told that this will also apply to house cleaners, electricians, and virtually every “home services” business category.

    Cost will be based upon phone calls received rather than ad clicks. Similar to AdWords “Call Only” ads. I hope for Google’s sake that it works better than their Call Only product. A recent Call Only campaign that I created had as many irrelevant calls as useful ones. And those were mostly tire kickers.

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