Google knows there is money to be made in local search advertising . Google designed Boost, their new service, for the marketing needs of small businesses like restaurants. Boost is currently available across the entire United States, it may very well attract many SMBs to online advertising because it targets customers who are actively interested (since they are searching) in what the SMB offers. Boost, which uses the pay-per-click model, is on the simple side; it works when a searcher puts in a location and a keyword such as (Chinese food in New York).
Normally, after that kind of search, a mix of Google Places pages and organic search results appear, along with a map of businesses in that area. With Boost, a Google Place ad shows up near the top of the page. In addition, the business with the Boost ad is pointed to on the map by a blue pin that sticks out from all the other location tags. Your ad put your restaurant’s name, info and description in prime real estate, positioning the ad in a good place on the search result page.
How It Works
First off, to use Boost, your restaurant must claim your Google Places Page. Be conscious of what categories you place your restaurant in (as you can chose five) as those will affect what searcher sees your ad.
From there, Google makes it easy to establish a campaign and suggests different budgets. A business only pays for the clicks the ad gets. The system is essentially automated with the need for little campaign management and the automatic placement of ads based on the Google ad algorithm. It works on a subscription basis and through Google Analytics, you can monitor the success of the campaign. Boost currently works on some mobile devices, a fact that weakens a service with location in mind.
Content of Ad
For a Boost ad, a business purchases an ad title of 25 characters and a description of 70 characters. The ad can either direct the customer to the restaurant’s website or Google Places page. The ad are also equipped with basic location info like address, name and phone. Another feature that can work to a restaurant’s advantage is the inclusion of a star rating that if positive, suddenly takes away the disadvantage an ad has compared to an organic search result.
When a restaurant starts using Boost, it sets a budget according to the number of clicks, and only pays for only the clicks it receives. Many may not even waste their time clicking the link as the phone number is available, which is essentially reaching a customer for free. The minimum per month for Boost is $50 and each category has to have a separate budget. Surprisingly, the cost per click does not become cheaper the larger your budget. Google’s logic is probably that businesses who want to monopolize a search category are willing to fork out more money.
How do I sign up for Google Boost?
Some preliminary results (collected in a very unscientific manner) have shown it to be less effective than Adwords, which is normally cheaper to advertise over. Google’s prices aren’t flat, and reflect how desirable a search category is. This could mean that the price may spiral upwards. Of course, as you have little control over how you are ranked in AdWords, your restaurant won’t be competing against other ads in Boost (at the very beginning at least). When it comes down to it, even amongst restaurants, it is hard to decide what is better without evaluating the market conditions (both online and off) of a particular restaurant.
Boost may definitely lose its value as more small businesses try it out. Since I am of the opinion that it matters for the restaurant, I will leave with some things to consider when deciding on an online advertising campaign (and if it will be worthwhile).
- Are you in an area where your competitors are nearby? Or where customers are overwhelmed with choice?
- Do your potential customers seek your restaurant out through the Internet? (ask them if you don’t know)
- Will your star rating make people ignore that its an ad not an organic search result?
- Is Google’s price per click less than the additional net of new customers from the net? (hard to tell without Google’s analytics, but sometimes its a no-brainer)
- If you act know before it becomes popular, will you get the most benefit?
- Does it fit with your larger marketing strategy? (a good website, interesting promotions, etc.)
- Have you reached the full potential of cheaper methods? (email and social media marketing come to mind)
- Do you have a secondary offer or promotion (on website/Places page) that will surprise and interest those who do click and convert them into customers?
- Are you able to monitor your ad campaign?
We will keep you informed as Google rolls out this program, keeping an eye out for strategies that develop and changes that might affect how you spend your online marketing budget.