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Back in December I blogged about the importance of local search, and promised a follow up post about Google’s new local ad product – Google Boost. Boost was initially launched in selected U.S. cities in October 2010 and rolled out across the rest of the U.S. in late January. It is now being tested in the U.K (but isn’t widely available yet).

What is Boost?

Labelled as ‘paid search for the masses’ and ‘set it and forget it’ Google Boost is an automated PPC option that is an extension of Google Places. The service is primarily aimed at small businesses that don’t have the resources to employ someone in house or hire an agency to run a PPC campaign.

Google creates a pay-per-click ad using information on your Places page and the ad is shown when users search for local businesses. The ads appear on Google and Google Map search results in the ‘sponsored links’ section and competes with traditional AdWords Ads.

The Boost ad includes the following information;

  • Name of your business
  • Address and phone number of your business
  • Short description of your business
  • Snippet from the Places Page detailing the average star rating and the number of reviews
  • Link to your business’ Place Page

What are the key advantages?

Ease of Use – there are no keywords or bids to figure out. The ad can be automatically generated based on information in the Places listing or can be customised. All that is required of the user is a minimum monthly budget of $50.

Visability – a boost ad takes up twice as much space as a standard AdWords ad and includes a blue marker which increases ad visability.

What are they key disadvantages?

Limited control – without the ability to select relevant keywords and set bids the advertiser is handing control over to Google regarding how and when their Boost ad is triggered. More importantly, they’re handing over to Google how their budget is spent.

How are results measured?

Google have developed a simplified dashboard that allows users to access data regarding; impressions, actions, cost, top search keywords and ad content.

Success stories?

It is still too early to evaluate the success of Boost but the fact that it has been rolled out across the rest of the U.S. so quickly suggests Google are pleased with the initial adoption rate. However some have questioned it’s effectiveness for local businesses in comparison to the Groupon business model which provides local businesses with a targeted method of advertising which can be tracked simply by the number of coupons redeemed.

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