Google – Owning the mobile space
Google is making some big moves in local advertising lately.
A couple weeks back the search giant added a mobile couponing option to its Google Local Business Center listing. This means that when a mobile web search lands you on a business’s “Place Page,” you can get a coupon that is redeemable straight from your phone (no need for printing).
Now, Google has launched a new effort to send window decals to over 100,000 local businesses in the U.S. that have been the most sought out and researched on Google.com and Google Maps.
They’re calling these businesses the “Favorite Places on Google” and you’ll now start to find them in over 9,000 towns and cities, in all 50 states. You can also explore a sample of the Favorite Places in 20 of the largest U.S. cities at google.com/favoriteplaces. Each window decal has a unique bar code, known as a QR code that you can scan with any of hundreds of mobile devices — including iPhone, Android-powered phones, BlackBerry and more — to take you directly to that business’s Place Page on your mobile phone. With your mobile phone and these new decals, you can go up to a storefront and immediately find reviews, get a coupon if the business is offering one or star a business as a place you want to remember for the future. Soon, you’ll be able to leave a review on the mobile page as well, just like on your desktop.
As Ad Age reported, Google also dabbled with QR codes in newspapers last year: “Google has already seen results from a recent test campaign conducted in three markets with jewelry retailer Blue Nile. Each ad contained a QR code and a response tag, and was tested against the same ads without the tags. The code-enhanced ads ended up driving 6.5 times more revenue than the ads without.”
Google has nothing to lose by trying this, and they know that both local and mobile are their future. Typing into a little search box is annoying on a mobile phone, and new “mobile paths” like shortcodes, QR codes and image recognition may soon replace text-entry search altogether. By helping businesses add these new calls-to-action that lead to Google’s Place Pages — as well as beef up their mobile presences with mobile coupons — they are attempting to own this emerging space.
Overall, this is good news for the mobile industry — Google can help push adoption of these technologies — but there is still the barrier of cost. QR decoding requires data, which requires money. Will people be willing to pay money (albeit tiny amounts) to read what is ostensibly an ad? Or will Place Pages provide enough value (through information, maps, reviews and now coupons) that people won’t even think twice about it?
Post: Courtesy Adage