Search Engine Company (or is that Advertising Company?) Google have been busy pushing their Google+ network for over a year now, and developments last week saw the end of Google Places and introduction of Google+ Local Pages. The sudden change caught pretty much everyone off guard.
In further developments this week, Google have announced they they will be introducing further changes to the Google+ Local Pages, with the addition of a local ad center that has been named by sources as Google Business Builder. As Google+ Local is driven by organic search of local business, the push into further advertising models to take advantage of this market is really no surprise at all.
Over the last 14 months, Google have been quietly acquiring companies (estimated at half a billion dollars) that have products that will now be integrated into this new Ad service. Some of these acquisitions include TalkBin and Punchd. TalkBin is a service that gives consumers the chance to text anonymously to store owners and give feedback on their shopping experience. Punchd is a loyalty based program that is smartphone based.
On top of the externally based software that has been acquired, Google have been busy building internal frameworks and applications to bring it all together.
At the center of all this lies Google+, and perhaps it explains why Google have been pushing so hard to make their latest push into the Social Media foray actually take off. Until now their track record has not been very convincing, with past failed experiments such as Google Friend Connect.
The new Google+ Local pages is giving merchants the ability to interact with their customers via an online platform, and the payoff for Google will happen if consumers begin to use these new services, and begin to make purchases with their smartphones via Google Wallet. Consumers will also have the chance to earn loyalty reward points if they use these new services. The kicker for Google is that they also get to serve up ads on these new services, so they get a double dip.
In a statement from Google’s Jeff Huber, ”Helping local business is a big part of our focus at Google, whether it is connecting shoppers with the right store nearby or helping merchants attract and retain customers. In local, our vision is not a one-size-fits-all product, but a range of flexible solutions that make the Web work for all local businesses.”
Google have been very busy over the last year holding workshops and teaching businesses how to set up an online presence, and even dishing out free websites. On top of this Google have even been offering these local businesses phone support, something that has never been seen before. With the latest developments it is clear that there was of course an underlying motive.
At the crux of all this, is Google’s wish for merchants to begin spending more money on advertising, as recent studies show that nearly 20% of Google searches, are local business enquiries. Last year alone ad spend by local businesses in the electronic medium came in at over $21 Billion, and this figure is growing strongly annually according to advisory firmBIA/Kelsey.
It is strongly rumoured that this new ad service and associated offerings will begin as early as next month (July).
If this does get traction in the market place, then the way we do shopping could be changed forever.