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March 24, 2006

Floating inanimate objects? And this is a Google beta?

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If you’ve been using Google Local in the past week or two you may have noticed the little coffee cups perking up all over the map. No, your de-caffeinated brain wasn’t playing tricks on you. We saw them too. According to Shimon Sandler, its all part of Google’s new beta, reportedly nicknamed GeoAds. The AJAX-enabled, droplet-size coffee cups are actually Google’s new spin on sponsored ads with a low cost-per-click. Once a user mouses over the hovering coffee cup, an ad appears out of a callout box. Pretty cool. Or as Shimon Sandler puts it in his blog — ‘Sweeeeeet’.

Want to see it? Sandler explains how. First you’ll need a Windows PC. (Mac users will have to head over to Search Engine Watch for screenshots.)

“Go to Google Local and type in the search box, "booksellers nyc". You should see a little coffee cup in addition to the little red balloons. Click on the coffee cup, and an ad appears for Barnes & Noble with their logo, hyperlink, street location, and phone number. Sweet, huh? That is a PPC ad.”

GeoAds, which we hear hasn’t been integrated into all Google Local searches just yet, has a management interface similar to Google AdWords. Sandler says to become listed in Google Local you’ll need to enter your business location on the Google Local site. Business with multiple locations, like a nationwide retailer, can upload a feed at the Google Local Business Center. This is different than your feed for Google Base. Base deals with products. Local deals with locations. Two different betas equal two different feeds, my friends.

We warned you earlier this month that the big dogs of search would begin making a strong play toward the local market. This looks like a serious step for Google. Local business will find a lot to like in GeoAds. It’s an excellent, low cost way to build name recognition and to alert those with an identified need for your service of your existence. I have mixed feelings, however. As a customer, I like that I can do a search for ‘bookstores nyc’ and have nearby options automatically appear on my screen. Options are good, especially if you’re telling me about a store that seems like an upgrade from the one I’m using now. At same time, if I’m looking for Bob’s Books in NYC, do I want to see ads for other area bookstores cluttering up my browser? Probably not. Plus, I always know what bookstore I’m looking for. I’m a one bookstore kind of girl.

We’ll have to wait and see if this one takes off for Google. It’s not their first time trying to incorporate sponsored ads into Local Search. Remember the blue pins? You got to admit, floating coffee cups are better than blue pins.





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