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Google Local Listing Ads and Why They Matter

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Just a couple weeks ago, Google announced something called “Google Local Listing Ads”. These ads are targeted at specific regions and attached to what is commonly referred to as a “10 pack” – a grouping of locations on a map. Part of the change has been moving the map of 10 locations (10 pack) down to 7 (7 pack).

In our original tests, which focused on two of the markets we serve (Senior Housing and Self Storage) we were able to draw a number of conclusions.

But first – a bit of the background.

So far, Google has only opened up this opportunity in two specific geographic locations to start (San Diego and San Francisco) and the parameters are quite tight. (So tight, in fact, that a South San Francisco client was unable to participate in the testing). We have a number of clients who did fit into these categories, however, giving us a chance to test what’s out there before a lot of other people in our industry.

It’s a great opportunity. We’re able to see how well these ads work, how they compare to other ads we’re running in the area – and be one of the first to help our clients make informed decision as to what is working and what isn’t.

So, what have we found? Surprising results.

A number of our clients show up in this single map result screenshot seen above.

 Our Director of Paid Advertising Dave Beltramini (@dbeltramini) compares these ads, in their native state, to the “proximity theory” for college pickups.

In a sentence: “When you see somebody you find attractive, but you don’t have anything to say, you just sort of walk up close to them and hope something will happen.”

Why does he say this? Simple. These ads are running near the maps portion of a Google search result - the visually compelling portion. Typical paid ads run above those maps – and they have somewhere in the neighborhood of 89 characters to work with – a legitimate piece of ad space. The “Google Local Listing Ads” however, are little more than a company name and address.

In many ways, as Greg Sterling pointed out in his article for Search Engine Land discussing this announcement – these ads are very similar to a Yahoo program called Local Feature Listings.

So what is the result?

Glad you asked!

For Senior Housing, we’ve seen a Click-Thru-Rate (CTR) that is on par with our average Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. Basically, it’s saving our clients money to take advantage of this service – in our limited tests. (Though our locally targeted PPC campaigns are still doing slightly better).

For Self Storage, however, the news is not as good. We are seeing a CTR that is about 1/3 to 1/4 of our PPC campaigns. When you drill down to our campaigns that are also focusing on specific geographic regions (most of them) that number drops to a paltry 1/6.

Currently, we see pricing as the biggest hurdle. It is on a per-location basis. This means as it now stands, for Senior Housing, it is a good price per click, but the Self Storage vertical remains challenging in a cost-benefit sense.

But rest assured. Once we know if it’s worth it, so will you.

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