What Will Page’s Ascension Mean for Local?

Today Larry Page becomes Google’s CEO — again. In the immediate future that probably won’t mean anything obvious to the outside world; but over time changes may become apparent. Apparently there have been a number of internal changes already, intended to reduce bureaucracy.

What will the Page regime mean for local? Will it mean incremental change and growth — although the company did try and buy Groupon for nearly $6 billion — or will there be an acceleration of some sort?

Marissa Mayer’s presence is already being felt on the consumer side in several ways. Will there be some new push on the SMB-advertiser side of the equation?

One could argue that Google has the right sales strategy in place with resellers, self-service and telephone sales — although execution is something different. And the company continues to roll out its city-by-city promotional tour to raise SMB awareness of Places, last week in Madison WI and Charlotte NC.

Yet I would argue that Google doesn’t yet have the right mix of products (or perhaps functionality) to grab a substantial share of the SMB advertiser spend. SMBs clearly want to be ranked in Google organic search. Places is a part of that.

Tags are marginally interesting. Yet SMBs are much less interested in paid search (even simplified by Boost). We’ll have to see what happens when/if Google Offers rolls out.

To build that product in earnest will require a much more aggressive direct sales outreach by Google than anything in the past — even the recent past. And will Google be able to effectively sell Tags, Boost and Offers side by side? Perhaps.

Google’s centrality to consumer local and local-mobile search is not in question. The question is: will Google really go after the billions in SMB marketing spend directly or will it be content to get only a small portion of that, especially as Facebook enters the local space in a meaningful way?

I wonder if Larry Page has an opinion on any of this.

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6 Responses to “What Will Page’s Ascension Mean for Local?”

  1. Yam Regev (PureSheer) says at

    Hope that Larry will post his opinion here, Greg :-)!

    It’s clear that Google cares most for profits, so
    1. Google has many Local products but they are just not prioritizing them right. Tags, Hotpot & Boost alone can generate couple of billions of $$. Google should push each deferentially (timing wise) &

    2. Google does not pointing their local products right, although they are becoming more targeted. it’s clear that the Local products should be used & operated by the merchants & biz owners them selves & not (only) by on line marketing agencies. When it’ll be in common use for each biz owner- that will be the big revolution & Google’s trophy. Just like any kid today is using Google for search.. (if you got my point). Also

    3. if Mr. Page want to show success & progress he should “Do Local, think Social & go Mobile”

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    The challenge is getting merchants to DIY as opposed to having someone else do it for them. Merchants are time starved; that’s the challenge.

    Google ultimately wants the Places page to be a kind of dashboard or CRM tool for the merchant. However Google hasn’t yet evolved the product to the point where it can operate that way.

  3. Mike says at

    I think sometimes Google doesn’t get enough credit for a dramatic disruption in local that isn’t monetized directly. A SMB can do almost nothing other than have a definitive website with their local address, and google will rank it top of organic local searches, even above their own places page for local search and on maps. (Clearly more to it than this to rank quickly, but over time I think this is true). Given previous comments about 60% of YP-type searches being ‘name in mind’, Google is effectively giving SMB top billing for $0 and no direct setup requirement.
    Granted, the next step is to generate leads/traffic beyond an SMB’s natural organic inquiry (self-earned referral) level — something I think others think a lot about, as well as Google. But I wouldn’t discount how nicely Google treats SMB in organic local as being incidental vs strategic.

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    Mike:

    You make a very fair point that the disruption here is the potential removal of the middle man (other than Google) to discover the SMB.

  5. earlpearl says at

    I think google has a very strong presence even when it comes about through 3rd party agencies.   The bulk of their focus is often through ppc….and that results in a significant level of spend with Google.  

    Profit to the bottom line off of ppc (boost/tags) is better for google if a 3rd party agency isn’t around or if the spend is direct on google search versus with an adsense carrier or another engine.   

    But one keeps looking at Google’s financials….and they keep making plenty of money….and they make it off of ads being carried by other publishers   and/or through agencies.   

    Google could make more efforts…and I’m sure they will.  Still In many many ways they are very visible and have their reach everywhere with regard to local smbs.

    In fact even if smbs put significant money with an IYP or another entity of that ilk…more often than not you will see the IYP using adwords in that category.   

    Somehow I wouldn’t worry about Google’s ability to grab a big big piece of the world of local spend.

  6. Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart says at

    Smbs seem to prefer not to work with Google and enjoy having solid local advice related to search and social. The hard part is determining how much good advice is worth.

  7. Mihmorandum | Quite a Month in Local Search | Google says at

    […] So, what was it, November/December when the Goog-Pon deal fell through?  I know Google’s become a huge company with a lot more levels of bureaucracy than it used to have, but with all those engineers, it really took them over four months to come up with a fully-baked offers program?  That currently is only available in Portland?  At the very least, you’d think Offers would be part of the sales kit for feet-on-the-street Places reps in Madison, WI and Charlotte, NC? […]

  8. Mihmorandum | Quite a Month in Local Search | Blog says at

    […] So, what was it, November/December when the Goog-Pon deal fell through?  I know Google’s become a huge company with a lot more levels of bureaucracy than it used to have, but with all those engineers, it really took them over four months to come up with a fully-baked offers program?  That currently is only available in Portland?  At the very least, you’d think Offers would be part of the sales kit for feet-on-the-street Places reps in Madison, WI and Charlotte, NC? […]

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