It’s not Google that needs a boost. Nor is it Google that gets a boost. It’s Google Boost, with a capital “B.” Which is what?
It seems a bit odd to talk about Internet marketing and advertising in terms of history but the truth is this online giant has been in the ‘Net advertising game for several years.
Not too long ago Google introduced such ideas as AdWords and Simple Ads, the latter meant to make the advertising process automatic. While this idea didn’t work out too well, the company refused to give up. There were ads that targeted local listings and there were Tags. Now, the Simple Ads idea has returned under the name “Boost.”
You may wonder what significance the title has, since the company itself is not the one getting the leg up. Actually, the boosting power goes to businesses. Boost establishes an AdWords program that is a bit more focused than the traditional campaign. This one is automated based on business categories and other information in the ad itself.
Here’s the key: Google determines how the advertisement is triggered based on specific search words.
OK, that sounds straightforward enough. What’s the payoff?
Business owners connect with customers in their own coverage area. Google puts it this way: business owners have a “quick and easy way to share information” with the potential customers who will be searching for them online. However, if you are the owner of a small-business in areas outside the major metropolitan areas it may be awhile before you get the benefits of Boost.
The first roll-out was in Chicago, San Francisco and Houston. Of course, the program will be available in many more areas than that, eventually. Initial information about advertising content shows that the listings will include all the basic and necessary information such as business name, address, phone number and Web site. But the ads will also offer data like reviews and star ratings.
Boost advertisements will be in the Sponsored Links area of Google pages, with appearance determined by relevance, keywords and some information provided by the person doing the search. In addition to submitting a description, categories and so on, the businesses will set a monthly budget to cover the advertising costs.
If you still don’t see the major benefit of this new advertising method, consider this: The business owner won’t have to stay on top of the advertising content as long as it’s accurate. That’s right; Google will assign keywords after the initial set-up. Boost takes the process of reaching area customers beyond the traditional search-engine optimization, Twitter and Facebook.
As we mentioned, the business owner will provide an initial description, along with a small amount of additional information. That description is limited to 70 characters, so accuracy of language is going to be a key factor. Business owners also choose where the ad will send potential customers – their own Web site, a Google landing page etc.
The key description items will be “what” and “where” as you might expect. Of course, the person searching will also be directed based on keyword and business location. Relevance will play a major part in business success through Boost since those relevant keywords will determine if the ad will appear on google.com or on maps.google.com.
Let’s review: Google Boost takes AdWords to another level since there won’t be any need to conduct keyword search or worry about targeting a particular geographic location. The process is automatic. As Google explains, if the profile page comes up in a search the location pin makes the result more prominent than AdWords did. The pin appears on the listing and on the map. Tags appear if you subscribe to them.
Boost is already spreading its wings. In November, the company announced availability in San Jose, California, Boston, Washington D.C. Seattle, Orlando and several other cities. It is also available for all local businesses in Illinois.
With all of this boosting that goes on, what changes are made to the original listings, rankings etc. According to Google, Boost doesn’t change ranking of the organic, free business listings. The company also points out that AdWords customers are invited to use Boost if it’s available. In the interest of honest advertising, the company emphasizes that “Adwords provides you with more advertising options and more detailed controls. With AdWords you can control keyword selection and bids, target both locally and nationally, get advanced reporting, and take advantage of different ad formats such as video, display on thousands of partner sites, and more.”
One of the benefits for Google, and ultimately for the owner of a small business, is that using Boost requires you to claim a Places page when you set up Boost. As some reviewers have pointed out, the percentage of small-business owners actively engaged in self-service marketing online is rather small (probably less than 10 percent). Automation with benefits is certainly going to be enticing to businesses that must watch their advertising and marketing budgets very closely.
If all of this explaining still doesn’t get you to the heart of the matter with Boost, take a look at a result on Google Maps. As the tutorial shows, your business listing should appear in the regular search listings when someone searches for a business like yours. Most relevant information appears first, as usual. But with Boost working, your business information is eligible to appear above the standard results.
That’s right, above and to the left of the map, with the blue pin right there for everyone to see! A similar “boost” is given when the results are shown on a Google search page.
Google has established these guidelines for Boost:
- Business name
- Address, phone number
- Description, 70-word maximum
- Average star rating and number of reviews
- Link to Place page
The program is being sold as a way to attract more local customers while paying only when someone clicks on the advertisement. One of the key selling points, especially for the business owner, is that there is no need to devote time and personnel to ongoing ad management.
Ad effectiveness is tracked on the Places dashboard for each business. Owners can see how many times the ad has appeared, how many times users clicked on the ad, cost for a specified period of time as well as actions and impressions per keyword.
Business owners control their advertising expenses on a monthly basis. Google offers a number of price ranges. But the owner of the small business can also “set your own monthly threshold equal to or greater than $50 per month.” Boost participation can be canceled at any time.
With all of the hype and the name Google attached, you would think that Boost is the greatest thing since, well, since sliced bread. How has the program been received since its recent introduction? Remember, the plan has only been available for a short time.
We found one review posted on www.newbasellc.com that gives mixed reports. The author referred to Wichita, Kansas as being one of the “lucky” locations and did a bit of research on how the program worked for a particular business Web site there. The company set a $170 monthly budget. This one business campaign had 1245 keywords.
Here’s the way the writer summarized the experience: Boost is managing the AdWords campaign but it doesn’t seem that Boost provides any special treatment. “Boost ads are still competing against every other AdWords advertiser, and there are several factors that go into how well an ad will do that Boost does not seem to be taking into account.”
This item was posted on January 2, 2011(relatively recent). But it seems that the company allowed enough time for the Boost to show results. In the author’s opinion, “Basically, the value that Boost provides, is to let local businesses advertise on Google search, on a small budget with no headaches.”
In all the material we’ve read about Boost that “no management necessary” item is the major benefit. It seems small businesses will have to start weighing the return-on-investment based on the amount of time they don’t spend with online advertising. The author of the NewBase review feels that Boost will only provide “good results for certain markets” and may cost local businesses “more in the long run.”
Some owners of small business in the United States will probably react with dismay, since Boost seems to be yet another marketing “thing” to worry about. Some may ask why they can’t just stay with the more traditional style of advertising and hope that their limited online efforts produce results.
As buyers become even more selective, due to expanded access to information as well as sources for products and services, business owners must continue to find the most efficient, productive marketing/advertising methods. If they don’t they will find their revenue numbers don’t exceed expense numbers. Maybe it’s time to go back to direct marketing and snail mail!