Sunday, April 10, 2011

Google Tags Advertising

Most recently I have discussed the emphasis Google has put on Google Places, what businesses will benefit most from having a well optimized Places profile, and how the increased visibility of the map results in the organic results pages affects ranking positions. As the organic landscape continues to morph, it is essential that businesses trying to broaden their online presence understand and keep up with the supplemental features Google rolls out that can be incorporated in to a Places profile. One of the more recent features is Google Tags, and I want to address exactly what Tags are, what benefits may be realized from taking advantage of them, and finally, some of the potential drawbacks of using Tags.

The concept of Tags is very easy to follow. In simple terms, Tags can be used to enhance the visibility of your Places profile so as to attract additional attention from online users that you may otherwise have failed to capture. Specifically, Tags are the yellow markers that appear under the company's URL in the Places profile. When a user scrolls over a Tag, the person can click through on the URL that appears to view any number of features that the business is hoping to promote; for example, a current deal or discount, photos, video testimonials or other features that people may be attracted to. Ultimately, Tags may serve as an effective advertising medium for a few reasons:

1) Visibility. In the end, profiles that utilize Tags are going to stand out from surrounding profiles and may seem more appealing than the alternative options. Often, increased visibility can lead to an increase in revenue. That is what Google wants business owners to think in this case. For example, if users can see that you are currently offering 15% off their next online purchase, they should be more inclined to enter that company's site and pull the trigger rather than checking out a competitor. 

2) Time Management. In most industries, advertising a product takes time and money. In many cases, advertising can take a lot of time. The convenient thing about advertising with Tags is that the implementation of a Tag can take as little as a few minutes. All one has to do is sign in to their Places profile, select which Tag they wish to utilize, and then activate that Tag.

3) Budgeting. Yes, Tags costs money. The price is $25/month per Tag. And while it is difficult to initially determine whether or not that is a good investment for your company, the nice thing about the costs associated with the service is that you control the budget. In my opinion, business owners who are interested in pursuing Tags may want to take advantage of Google's free 30 day trial they are offering at this time, and measure the increase (or perhaps decrease?) in exposure and conversions from the time the campaign starts to the time that it ends.

While these potential benefits are fairly straight forward, the disadvantages of Tags may be more ambiguous. Yet, there may be some potential roadblocks for companies that utilize the service. For starters, the fact of the matter is that Tags is a sponsored service, so anyone who is online savvy will know that the company has paid for the Tag, and could dismiss the notion that the Tag is a sign of legitimacy. My response to that, though, is who cares? Is it going to matter, for example, that a company offering a 15% discount paid for the Tag to advertise said discount? Personally, I doubt it. The only thing that will matter to an online user who may already be searching for deals is the discount itself.

I think a more realistic problem for companies advertising with Tags will arise if the business does not keep tabs on their Places profile's exposure and resulting conversion rates after launching the campaign. If the company does not have someone who can navigate the Places dashboard or is familiar with Google Analytics, that $25/month per Tag may not be a wise investment. If you are unable to determine what the cost-benefit analysis is of running such a campaign, I would advise against launching it until you understand how that can be done. I anticipate that Tags, for the average small business owner, will be a difficult thing to track and actually measure, unless someone is assisting them with the performance metrics of the campaign.

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