Boston.com Drops Axciom for Local Search, Signs with Google

The people running the Boston Globe’s Web site and city portal Boston.com, are confident local advertisers will benefit from a decision to have Google provide local business search results.

The New York Times Company-owned site, which had been using local business search results provided by Axciom and an in-house application, announced this week it was switching to Google’s platform.

“It’s giving Google distribution for AdSense and, on our side, it provides revenue from AdSense and a great platform for giving better content: well-suited ads that both we and Google can sell,” said Boston.com Search Product Manager Joel Abrams.

Boston.com said the improved business listings content “provides a foundation and framework to offer an effective and diversified range of marketing opportunities” for advertisers.

The ad opportunities include Google AdWords text ads, targeted display ads, enhanced events content and Web pages optimized for search results and lead generation, said the company.

According to Abrams, Boston.com’s in-house ad sales team is pleased about the change.

“The sales force is excited about having something new to sell,” he said. “At the moment, they are mainly selling it as part of other packages they’re selling to advertisers… local search is part of the bundle.”

He said Boston.com is currently developing plans to integrate more information about local businesses into the results. This could include notices of special sales or other events.

“We had Axciom and we had a basic application that we developed in house,” said Jason Butler, Boston.com’s director of product development for search. “It was fine. It gave basic name, rank and serial number. But we had to maintain it and clean it up and work with businesses sending us updates and that sort of stuff.”

Advertisers might appreciate the way Google’s technology will, according to Butler, “surface the business listings within the search far better” than the prior system.

“We let them [Google] do the data cleansing and search relevancy as well as aggregating other reviews from around the Web and photos and other data that enriches the business listings,” said Butler. “Google greatly improves both the coverage and quality of our business listings� We’re happy to go with the people who are the best in the world at doing this.”

Butler said Google’s technology is better at anticipating the intent of searchers but he noted the results are also being tailored by staffers.

“Part of what we’re doing with local search is we editorialize it,” he explained. “A search crew analyzes all the searches coming through… I’ve stolen people from the newsroom to do this.”

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