Just a few days ago, we reported that Google Places had been swallowed up by Google+ Local Pages, as the search giant continues expanding into new revenue sources. Social, local, and mobile are definitely their focus and it is even more evident in Google’s latest rumored project, a small business service.
WSJ.com reports Google plans to have the project launch as early as July, citing “a person familiar with the matter.” At one point, they say, the service was called Business Builder and it will combine several internal and recently acquired products and services under one umbrella to draw small business users in – possibly including Google Offers, Google Wallet, Punchd, TalkBin, and AdWords Express.
Local is fast becoming the Holy Grail for companies reliant on ad revenue and competition is stiff, with companies like Google and Facebook leading the charge. Facebook reported $3.1 billion in advertising revenue for 2011, a far cry from Google’s $37.9 billion, 96 percent of which comes from advertising. In display advertising alone though, Facebook is expected to dominate this year, raking in $2.6 billion to Google's $2.5 billion in display ad revenues. By the end of 2013, Google will hold a $3.7 billion to $3.3 billion lead over Facebook for display ads, according to eMarketer.
Local advertising spend is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 2.6 percent between 2011 and 2016, with revenues climbing from around $132 billion to more than $150 billion, according to local media space advisory group BIA Kelsey. Clearly, online local advertising is big business for the reigning tech giants.
Google+ is central to this new project’s success, which makes sense given the recent Places/Pages overhaul that saw Zagat’s reviews incorporated into the business Pages mix. More importantly, all Google local business listings will be merged and used across search, Maps, mobile and Google+.
In describing Google’s vision for this new project, WSJ reports:
When shoppers visit these businesses, Google wants them to use their Internet-connected phones like a digital wallet, earning loyalty points and making payments at stores that sign up for Google's new services. In turn, Google is hoping stores and other businesses will use their new Google+ pages to communicate with customers, such as by showing them special offers. And it hopes to persuade them to sign up for other Google products.
We’ve already seen elements of Google’s plan to get more small businesses online – and spending budget in AdWords – in action, with free website programs like NewYorkGetOnline, a geo-targeted part of the broader Get Your Business Online program.
Though Google refused to confirm or deny the specifics of any upcoming initiatives, a spokesperson said in a statement, "Helping local business is a big part of our focus at Google, whether it is connecting shoppers with the right store nearby or helping merchants attract and retain customers. In local, our vision is not a one-size-fits-all product, but a range of flexible solutions that make the Web work for all local businesses."
We’ll keep you up to date as details of the new project are released.