Google’s plan to go after local advertising

A couple of years ago, there were pundits galore spouting non-sense about how much “local” advertising Google was taking from newspapers.

But for anybody who actually did a local search on Google, it was pretty clear that all of those “local” advertisers where actually national plays trying to reach a local audience, or aggregators, or arbitrage sites. They were not newspaper advertisers, except in the real estate category.

Up until today, there seemed like plenty of opportunity for newspapers to us its superior local resources to protect and expand local advertising online. But Google has some up with a plan to answer the “feet-on-the-street” challenge. It’s kind of scary. They’re paying freelancers to take pictures of local businesses to add to Google Local, bridging the gap between impersonal self-serve and an initial human contact to make the introduction.

Also interesting is the payment scheme, It’s a $10 rate per business – but, note, it’s $2 for the content and $8 AFTER the business has verified the accuracy. Read: after we have established a real contact connection with the potential advertiser.

This currently appears to only be a US program, fyi. For those of you out there who claim to “own the channel�, think about this. Smart college kids eagerly showing your local advertisers all about the chance to get featured in a prominent spot on Google Maps, for free.

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