Google Maps for holiday shopping

Google wants you to do your holiday shopping, and not just with Google Checkout!Google.

Google wants you to do your holiday shopping, and not just with Google Checkout! points out today “Google Maps: Find local stores and directions for holiday shopping.” The one-line promo under the Google homepage search box leads to Google Maps.

I followed Google’s suggestion and did a search at Google Maps for “gift” in “nyc.”

The result? A listing of gift stores in NYC, as well as a “Sponsored Link” for Google Checkout (see “Google: Multi-billion dollar self-dealer”?) asking “Need gift ideas?”

Google has been particularly anxious to replicate its search leadership in local, everything local, both online and off, as I put forth in “Google: $31 billion local winner?

Google is promoting Google Maps to direct searchers to offline stores. The use of search engines in driving offline purchases is a hot topic, and so is the tracking and quantification of offline conversions.

Data reported by a recent Nielsen/NetRatings and WebVisible survey of approximately 3000 U.S. Internet users about their experiences in searching for local service providers aims to gauge the ability of Websites to drive offline purchases for small businesses. Key findings:

70% of Internet users report using search engines to find a local service,

When searching for a local service website, searchers find what they want quickly, averaging less than 3 searches:

68% said they would use the phone number on the website to contact a vendor,
16% said they would contact a vendor by the e-mail address on the website,
11% said they would contact the vendor via an online form found on the website,
6% said they would visit the vendor in person after viewing the website.

Of those that searched for a local service in the past 90 days:

51% used a general term to search (“dentist”),
49% used a general service term and regional term (“dentist in Cleveland”),
23% used a specific business name (“Dr. Bob’s Dental”),
19% used a specific service term to search (“root canal”).

What about hard, trackable offline conversion data?

I posed the question at the recent Kelsey Local Interactive Media conference as I report in “Advertising innovation: Who needs PPC links?

Advertising entrepreneurs explored “next generation ad and product models” while paying homage to “game changer” PPC links for paving the way for “performance” advertising. Marc Barach, CMO, Ingenio, said his company’s pay-for-performance advertising system “drives targeted phone call leads to advertisers via search and directory sites.”

Barach put forth that Ingenio’s direct-response mechanism is appealing to a business that wants to “get a lead, to get an edge over competition.” Early adopters are embracing pay per call because they are ‘buying on the basis of response,” Barach said.

I suggested, however, that the holy “pay for performance” grail for businesses is not a “lead,” it is a “sale.” I asked if a “pay for ’sales’ performance” mechanism is in the works, other than coupons. None was offered. Barach indicated, however, that while no “industry solution” exists, a “qualified lead” is a valid proxy that is acceptable to businesses.

Industry service providers may want local merchants to accept a lead as a proxy for a sale, but such acceptance is far from certain.

ALSO: Yahoo: Holiday shipping buzz


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