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.