Businesses Take Stock Of Google Local Ads

    March 31, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The latest play for the local search market officially debuted from Google as the search advertising company discussed the launch of the new AdWords feature.

Dominic Preuss, product manager for Google Local advertising, couldn’t be happier about the formal arrival of the local business ads product for AdWords. Testing began in December 2005, where occasional notices of the ad balloons on Google Local maps drew commentary in the blogosphere.

Another early test, of a Barnes and Noble advertisement that appeared with searches for “booksellers nyc” on a map of Manhattan, also found considerable attention online as a few users spotted the “ad balloons” Google (NASD:GOOG) used for testing.

Preuss said in a phone call that advertisers participating in the initiative have been “very positive” in their assessment of the latest service. Click-through rates have been very good too, Preuss noted.

There are a lot of “levers” for advertisers to pull in AdWords for the local business ads, to control the locations and keywords for campaigns. It sounded like advertisers were just beginning to scratch the surface of what Google has made available.

From a user perspective, Google’s usual contextual ads appear with the Local search results. The “booksellers nyc” example returns one ad atop the results and three below that list. Then the newest features for local businesses can be seen in those Local search results. Google described this in further detail:

Each ad will be associated with a marker on the map that users can expand to reveal more information such as phone number and a customizable logo or image. Both small businesses and large chains can easily target multiple locations within a single Ad Group using the same keyword list – yet another way of targeting more customers more effectively. As with regular text ads, local business ads can be continually updated or enhanced based on user response or local promotions to give advertisers maximum campaign efficiency and flexibility.

A search on Google Local for “designer boots austin tx” demonstrates the new feature. Each local listing shows the business name, address, and phone number; below each listing, a link to the business’ website and a text excerpt related to the search terms appears.

Google did manage to finish slightly up for the week in the stock market, closing at $390.00 on Friday; after-hours trading has pushed shares down 40 cents at press time. Other Internet advertising plays had relatively flatter performances.

MIVA (NASD:MIVA) suffered a drop after it reported a greater than expected loss for the fourth quarter and readjusted forecasts for the first quarter as the company anticipates a loss then as well.

The company has been trying to pull out of the doldrums with a series of recent deals. One pairs MIVA with Intellext, a provider of search tools and services. Intellext will deliver MIVA pay-per-click and pay-per-call advertising to users of Intellext’s Watson desktop search tool.

ValueClick Inc (NASD:VCLK) finished the week up at $16.92, but well off its 52-week high of $20.98. The company recently completed the integration of its ValueClick Media and Fastclick display advertising networks and named the division ValueClick Media.

The company said it can reach over two-thirds of the US Internet-using public per statistics from comScore Media Metrix. Analyst William Morrison of JMP Securities upgraded ValueClick to a rating of “strong buy” and raised his target price for VCLK to $25 in an advisory note to clients earlier this month.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.