I love Google Places. Integrated with AdWords, Places enables swanky Ad Extensions, transforming local and paid marketing into an exciting channel.
It pains me to say it though, but Google Places has felt like a wounded animal for years now. While it offers so much potential in reach and location based marketing, the support, stats, ease of use and desire for ‘more’ hasn’t existed for ages.
Register a local business or place on Google+ paying attention to the marker icon, telephone look-up, aesthetics, feel, map, etc, and you should have already guessed that Google Places will merge with Google+.
Merging Places and Plus will happen – it’s only a matter of time. The only barriers I foresee at the moment are multi-admin access and rights, AdWords integration and how to migrate the mass of accounts.
Signs look positive with regards to multi-admins. Mashable’s Meghan Peters reports that during a live Q&A, a Google spokesperson said multi-admin will happen before the 2012 year end.
Multi-admin is an imperative milestone in merging Places with Plus (‘Places Plus’), mainly so business’ can register and maintain all their brick and mortars (or transfer them from Places) via one account.
No doubt Google+ won’t make the same mistake the that Facebook did – having brands unconnected with places – scattered all over the socialverse by copying Facebook Locations – binding them all together into one master, yet many sub-profiles. Local and social marketing – more multidiscipline channels.
Many location based Ad Extensions are enabled with Places integration. Merge too fast, making a mistake and Google could lose part of that momentum. AdWords revolves around monies which always comes with a ‘tread with caution’ sign.
With regards to data, I’ll leave that upto you to guestimate how hard it is to merge 4 million accounts.
What Does This Mean for Me?
Lets speculate Places Plus happens; we can then think about how it impacts businesses:
- User Increase – Google+ gains 4 million claimed businesses, and could even enable un-claimed profiles, enticing another 40 million others to join.
- Multidiscipline – local becomes a required skillset for any social lead marketer, and just as equal to search too.
- Rewards – users will be offered rewards or shown discount codes for near-by Places directly on their portable device i.e. mobile.
- Mobile – local marketing via mobile, or broadly portable, will be ‘the’ channel for brick and mortars.
- Paid Search – AdWords integration with Google+ occurs more frequently, making social annotations in ads more prevalent. Entices those who are not, to start.
- Facebook Ads – enables Google+ to compete with Facebook Ads in paid media. I’ve suggested before Google and Facebook are only commercial competitors, not social.
- Social Structure – local social strategies will be a need, hopefully built locally up, yet still likely managed at a country or brand level. Structure, roles and responsibilities mapping clears this up.
- Ratings – if someone rates or comments or a location, you can respond to their engagement – digital CRM style.
- Ignorance – it will be hard to ignore Google+, even if it’s not teeming with users like Facebook, you can certify it will be. Presence is Google’s carrot for businesses; they’ll have to sign-up to compete.
Im sure there are more benefits, so if you have any, get in touch and I’ll update accordingly.
Overall, it’s inevitable Places merges with Plus, whether it’s more Plus consuming Places, I don’t know. When it happens, local marketing with social, loyalty and mobile at the helm will be irresistible for businesses. What do you think?
I found the following post on Google Groups:
Currently, Google Places accounts and Google+ Pages must be managed separately. We encourage you to continue maintaining the information in your Places account — this will ensure that your potential customers find basic, accurate information about your business on Google Maps and local search. But, you may also want to supplement your Google Places account with a Google+ page to additionally engage with customers using Google+. We’re working on ways to make your experience on Google Places and Google+ Pages more seamless. Stay tuned!
Toby S, Community Manager for the Google+ Project, more than hints that Places and Plus will merge. “Seamless” being the key word in the passage.