For search marketers, measuring profitability and response in Local Listings will require a bit of a change in mindset from what they might currently be doing.
For local searches in particular, paid listings are more relevant than organic ones. After all, marketers only want to pay for relevant clicks, and there's never been a foolproof way for Google or the other search engines to identify the optimal local results for a specific query.
Google has launched a new flat fee Local Listings product in San Diego and San Francisco that, when it rolls out nationally (and eventually internationally), will have a profound impact on local search results. The SERPs (define) will become almost fully dominated by non-organic listings even on a high-resolution browser. A 1024 x 768 SERP for a local result has up to 75 percent of the browser screen covered with advertising. However, not just any advertising is displayed. The ads are highly relevant; it's a situation that I can see evolving to the point where a fourth ad starts showing up on non-local ads. Time will tell.
Some might see Google's move to monetize page inventory at the expense of organic clicks as ruthless: it's crowding the SERPS with paid listings to improve monetization. However, Google has managed to simultaneously improve relevance and generate more revenue per thousand searches.
If you have a local presence and serve people who potentially have a preference to shop locally rather than online, you should consider these ads as part of your paid search strategy. I don't own a business in San Diego or San Francisco, and most of my clients are still deciding whether to run a test, so I reached out to Dave Beltramini, director of paid advertising for G5 Search Marketing. He's running a couple of clients in the new local platform. Some of G5's clients have a very strong retail presence in San Francisco or San Diego, including Self Storage and Senior Housing. They even have more than one client in the same industry, which gave them a unique opportunity to experiment. As you can see from this screenshot, below, if an advertiser has a lot of local presence, their local listings ads can be quite compelling.
According to the tests run by G5:
For Senior Housing -- the click-through rate is on par with our average PPC campaign.
The biggest hurdle is pricing. Based on per-location costs, Senior Housing is a good price per click but the Self Storage vertical remains challenging in a cost-benefit sense."
There is clearly some potential in this flat fee ad product, but success may be driven by consumer behavior, costs, and one's industry vertical. Some of the challenges include:
It's too early to know the answers to some of these questions, plus we don't know how Google will treat major retail players that have many locations within a region. Will blockades be accepted or will Google reduce the cost and rotation rates of additional ads?
Local Listings ads in Google are not keyword-based, at least not directly. Google maps keywords to categories, much like the local yellow pages. Advertisers can select from one or more categories and, as expected, the more categories, the higher the cost.
Measuring profitability and response in Local Listings will require a bit of a change in mindset from what you might currently be doing. The local listings, because they display a telephone number, will be using "free call-tracking, announcing each forwarded customer call. 'This caller brought to you by Google'." While this may seem great, for some cities, such as New York City, it's doubtful that Google has the 212 area code available, and like it or not, a company's telephone exchange communicates the age of companies in New York. A 646 or 917 area code is considered sub-par compared to 212. I hope Google implements an optional toll-free service at a slight additional cost per call or cost per minute. This should stimulate additional calls, perhaps even more than a regional number (even though these days nearly everyone is on unlimited local and sometimes national calling plans at a residential level, and business people may not care about toll-free).
I look forward to testing this for multichannel clients and my wife's local business.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!
Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.
September 17, 2014
September 23, 2014
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT