Can Google win in Local?

Google declared yesterday “Connect for free.” Who can resist?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Google declared yesterday “Connect for free.” Who can resist?

Google’s uncanny ability to position every move it makes in its for-profit mission as a public service helps push its $150 billion market cap ever higher.

“Click-To-Call” in Google Maps is the search behemoth’s latest product “test,” announced by Min Zeng, Google Maps team, with Googley goodness at the official Google blog:

Last week, I was trying to buy blue lightbulbs for a party at my house, and I ended up calling ten different stores before I found one that carried them. Now with the new calling feature on Google Maps, I can do this quickly and easily, and never have to lift a finger to dial.

In “Google wants $10 billion local ad spend” I present the appeal of the large local ad market as well as the ramifications of the highly fragmented local landscape. 

Sheryl Sandberg, VP Global Online Sales & Operations, Google, said at an investor Q & A in NYC last September:

We think the local opportunity is huge. Local has a very interesting property in that it is very highly monetizable.

Google touted yesterday, however, that: “We're providing the 'call' link as a free service to all businesses...We foot the bill for calls (local and long distance).”

Last August, Google announced “You can offer coupons for free, at Google Maps.”

The Google Maps Local Business Center calls out:

Why should you list your business on Google Maps?
It won't cost you a thing.
You can create and display a business listing for free. Period.

Why is Google being so benevolent?

In “Free Google Coupons: Google generosity, or latest AdWords sales tactic” I underscore:

Google will soon allow businesses to buy ads that will appear on its search engine to point people to their coupons, just as it sells ads that drive traffic to Google Base items.

The local market is a lucrative one, a complicated one, and one Google wants to win.

What is Google’s “winning” strategy? Perhaps we will know more soon.

I will be attending the Dan Rubinstein, SME Business Platforms, Google, keynote at the Kelsey Group’s Interactive Local Media Conference in Philadelphia after Thanksgiving. What is on tap?:

Dan Rubinstein joined Google in April 2005, leading the AdWords Decision Support team and driving the company’s revenue forecasting process. In his current role, he is responsible for Google’s Small Business product initiatives, including the integration of Google tools into Intuit’s Quickbooks.

ALSO:  “Can Yahoo or Google make money in local?” and
Google QuickBooks 2007: Death to Yellow Pages, newspapers?"

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