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McLellan: Google’s new twist on ads


One of the biggest challenges of advertising on Google is that, at best, it’s a moving target. It’s not just that they are constantly tinkering with their algorithms but they’re also revising and evolving their advertising options and products.

Starting Nov. 1, they launched a new product called Home Service ads. When you use this offering, you can directly advertise your business on Google and receive leads directly from potential customers. That’s nothing new. But these leads come in as phone calls and messages sent through your Home Service ad. The advertiser can reply to messages, track bookings, and manage all leads online and through an app that accompanies your ad buy.

The Home Service ad section shows up at the top of the search results when people search for the services advertised within a local area. Potential customers can either call or send a message request by clicking on the ad. When they do, the advertiser will get an email and notification from the Home Service ads mobile app.

If Google is putting those kinds of options and tools into place, you have to guess that they’re expecting this new offering to sell well and perform in a way that makes the investment worthwhile.

Of course, they’re also putting some teeth into the new service to increase the odds that it will be successful and sell well. Advertisers who don’t follow the best practices that are baked in could see an impact on the performance of their campaign. If someone regularly fails to respond to messages or has repeated delays in their response time, then Google reserves the right to remove the ability for people seeing the ad to send message requests to the advertiser’s business. The lack of response could also affect their ad ranking.

Interestingly, Google has decided to test this new category of ads by only offering it to a handful of service industries at the launch. On Nov. 1, the only types of companies who were able to use the ads are locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC and garage door services. They are also beta testing certain regions of the country. Iowa is not in the initial beta locations but Google promises to expand the locations quickly.

One aspect of this new advertising option that’s most interesting to me and speaks to a bigger trend that we all need to be tracking is that once again we are being offered (or guided, perhaps) to think in very narrow channels in our attempts to reach potential customers.

Not only are these ads for a specific type of business, but within that business category, Google is funneling the ads even further. If I owned a plumbing business and was creating an ad campaign using this new tool, I’d be directed to be very specific about the kinds of plumbing we did. Each service will have a list of potential services that the advertiser can choose so it helps Google serve up your ad as part of the results of a search.

As you would expect, geo-targeting is also an important element of these ads. If your business only works within a certain geography, you’ll be able to specify your service territory. It will be interesting to watch how Google adapts this type of tool for organizations that serve a more regional or national audience.

As you work on your 2018 marketing plan, this is a trend that should stay top of mind. The channels will continue to narrow to give advertisers less waste and a better chance of speaking to someone who really could buy what they sell. How have you baked that efficiency into your advertising spend?

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