For businesses that have taken the steps to sign up with Google's Local Business Center, Google has a new offering available - Local Listing Ads. Unfortunately it is only currently available in San Diego and San Francisco as a trial! While they are not intended to compete with AdWords in any way, I can see there being some overlaps in the positions used to display ads, as well as by the businesses who choose one platform over the other. It all seems very easy to set up and a good value add to customers that are taking advantage of Google Local already (even more value add to those that aren't!). Ads are displayed based on the following:

  • Business location
  • Search categories
  • Where the user is performing their search

Here is a video explaining the program:

All in all, the program sounds like a good idea for those trying to grab more traffic in a local marketplace and there are lots of good advantages.

  • Free for 30 days!
  • Flat monthly rates based on your location and vertical
  • Free phone call and performance tracking included
  • Call whisper feature available - you'll hear "this call brought to you by Google" from each call you receive from the ad
  • Only for verified businesses, so take the time to claim and verify your listings
  • No ongoing management required (which I'm sure will change for those that want to take it to the next level)
  • You can cancel anytime
  • You can choose the landing page for your business - Google place page or your website (aka no website needed)
  • Ads are up in a few hours (spend money faster!)

Once things are up and running, you now will have a nifty new tab in your LBC called Ads next to the Dashboard and Coupons tabs. Inside the Ads tab, you'll be able to edit and manage your ads, as well as view the reporting available - clicks to landing page, clicks for directions, clicks on the More info link in Google Maps, as well as all phone call tracking information.

Some very good questions have already been raised, but here are a few more:

Where will this inventory be featured and how will it change the search results display above the fold?

If you use your Google place page as your landing page, will other sponsored results still be shown on your page? What about if you use your website as your landing page?

Will advertising with the Local Listing Ads provide a boost in "BizRank" for the 10-pack and maps results?

As the program progresses, if the monthly flat rate cost is too high for some SMB's, will there be a half-in option or a way to choose the budget for limited visibility?

It's definitely great to see more attention being given to the local marketplace and hopefully this draws more support on the scene by Google. Hopefully it's released in Chicago soon as well!

If you want to get notification on when it's available in your area, you can sign up here - https://services.google.com/fb/forms/locallistingadscontact/

If you don't have your business claimed yet in Google Local Business Center, find it in Google Maps, click on More Info and then claim the business, or to start a new listing, go here - http://www.google.com/lbc