With Google Places Tags now on the chopping block, it only makes sense that those advertisers should switch to Google Boost ads – right?
Wrong, and here’s why.
Those beautiful little tags are sadly to be no more, come May 2011 – much to the disappointment of myself and I’m sure, many other marketers who had actually tried them out. What made them so great, you ask?
- $25 / mo flat fee – at that price, why wouldn’t everyone be running them?
- If you were one of the few business appearing on the first page of search results and had a tag by your places listing, there’s no disputing that they stand out from the crowd.
- You could setup coupons and assign codes to measure their effectiveness, or you could choose from other options such as view our site, check out these photos, etc…not perfect, but it was a start, at least.
They did have some annoying issues, though – choosing the tag you wanted to show would be an exercise in frustration as you’d have to activate the tag, then go back into your places dashboard and select the tag you had just activated for it to show up. Not the end of the world once you’ve done it a few times, but for my clients that like to go in and change their coupons once in a while, it would drive them nuts. But honestly, for $25 a month, I have a hard time complaining too much about it.
Now let’s look at Boost. Erick Schonfeld over at Techcrunch calls Boost ads “a refined version of Tags”, that are much more useful than Tags, because they display your Places information, including ratings and phone number – instead of a coupon or offer. This is better, Eric says – because,
Merchants don’t want to drive clicks to their websites, they want to drive foot traffic to their stores or calls for their services. Also Boost is a very straightforward online advertising product. Merchants set a budget and pay per click, whereas Tags appear next to organic results to make them pop and were sold via a flat subscription.
Except that’s not entirely true – yes, Tags were sold via a flat subscription which I stated earlier – $25/ mo. Typical Tag performance for most of my clients averaged between 8-20 clicks/mo. on the actual tag, but there was also a significant increase in visits to those client’s websites from their places listings while the Tags were running – for one client, the increase in visits nearly doubled; from ~50 visits one month to over 90 visits the next. Of course, it’s hard to really know the true impact of the Tag since we only have a few months of data to go off of, but I didn’t have any clients where it didn’t boost the performance of their Places listing at driving traffic to their site.
Now what if I told you I could get you about the same level of performance for only 10 to 20x that budget a month, minus of course, the ability to include a compelling offer – and that the ads would now appear in the Adwords area, instead of the organic listings? Would you still be as excited? Of course not. But hey, on the bright side, you do get that really cool blue teardrop with your ad, so….
So why is Google killing Tags and replacing it with Boost? Money, money money money! (you know the song, go ahead and sing it.)
How about an increase of $5.3 BILLION DOLLARS in advertising revenue, year over year. That’s not chump change – and the reason I bring this up is because Google is a publicly owned company, meaning they need to show profits to their investors so they can continue to get their money. The only way to do that is by looking for sources of additional revenue, anyway they can. Think the ‘Panda’ update was all about ‘improving’ search results for the good of the user? Maybe, but how do you explain the fact that Google’s own sites seemed to benefit the most – SEOMoz had a great post right after the update, including a chart from Sistrix that showed the % difference in the #of keywords various website properties appeared for, both before and after the update:
Here’s a snapshot showing how Blogspot and YouTube were affected.
While a 12% increase in the total # of keywords a site appears for may not seem like a lot, when you look at the actual numbers it’s pretty damn astounding. How many blogs running on Google’s blogspot are running adsense, do you think? And aren’t video ads starting to be more an more prevalent nowadays? Or course, I suppose – this could all simply be coincidental.
How do you feel about Google trashing Tags and replacing them with Boost ads? Will you be trying them out yourself or for your clients, or do you already have performance data you can share? Let me know in the comments!