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Is Google doing local retailers a favor with Google+ Local? Not Likely

Discussion in 'Online Dealership Marketing Best Practices' started by Ed Brooks, May 30, 2012.

  1. Ed Brooks

    Ed Brooks Sr. Refresher

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    I followed the buzz about the change from ‘Google Places’ to ‘Google+ Local’ fairly closely today and came across two articles near the end of the day; “Google+ Local to Replace Places as Google Makes a Play for More Mobile Ad Dollars” from Search Engine Watch and “Google Sending 51% Less Traffic To Facebook Pages Since Launch Of “Search Plus Your World” from Search Engine Land.

    In the first piece, Miranda Miller @MirandaM_EComm writes about how important Google thinks Mobile is today, and more importantly is going to be in the future. By “merging all business listings into one to be used across search, maps, mobile, and Google+” they are setting themselves up to be better positioned to take a growing share of the growing pile of money in mobile advertising.

    In the second piece, Greg Finn @gregfinn discusses a change Google made months ago ‘Search Plus Your World’ (SPYW). Five months ago Google started factoring in ‘Social Signals’ into your search results. These ‘Social Signals’ are virtually all from Google properties; Google+, YouTube, etc. In the time since the change, traffic from Google to Facebook is down 51% - a huge number.

    Putting this together:
    Search (or better yet, advertising) has been referred to as Google’s Castle. Almost everything else they do, Chrome, Android, Maps, etc, is a Moat designed to protect the castle. ‘Search Plus Your World’ is certainly a part of that moat. It looks like ‘Google+ Local’ is part of the moat as well – making it harder for others to compete for the huge, emerging pile of Mobile Advertising money.

    How important is the castle to Google?
    Last year they reported about $38 Billion in revenue, and are tracking to come close to $50 Billion this year. 96% of that comes from advertising. Google wants you to spend money. Lots of it. And spend it with them.
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  2. Ryan Leslie

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    Great synopsis Ed!

    Anybody know why we don't live in castles? Firepower!!! Canons and mortars decimate Castles from a distance and the moat and high walls were no longer effective defense.

    To carry your analogy just a little further, I think that the big guns of the FTC are going to be working out the trajectory sooner rather than later as a result of today's changes. I don't get it Google. You get drug in to a Senate hearing setting up an antitrust investigation and you go after your biggest competitor by cutting referral traffic by 50% and ice the cake by forcing the hand of every business owner to create a G+ business listing??? Am I the only one that expects at least a little more subtle approach?

    Have you been following the Antitrust case developments in the EU? Here is an article from Politico that might be of interest.

    Google dodges EU antitrust case - Tony Romm - POLITICO.com

    And a current one from CNET written earlier today that talks about a raid of Google's office in Seoul:
    Regulators in Asia, Europe press Google on competition concerns | Internet & Media - CNET News

    It is fair to assume that the outcome of the case against Google across the pond will be a foreshadowing of things to come here, especially in light of the FTC recently retaining a formidable legal team for this purpose. The EU team has requested action from Google revolving around the same core concerns from the Senate Hearing in Sept. We are just a few days from the deadline for Google to have submitted proposed changes to several current business and search practices. Should be interesting to see what they propose in light of today's events.

    I think Fairsearch.org is about to be infused with a whole lot of Facebook capital.
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  3. Ed Brooks

    Ed Brooks Sr. Refresher

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    I believe this is a massive overreach by Google. The idea of incorporating Social Signals into search makes sense, but Google has pushed aside existing Signals like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and yes, DealerRater, whilst simultaneously forcing use of their Google+ platform. They've had to force use because no one goes there without a push.

    Bing seems to be utilizing existing Social Signals in a positive, collaborative, way. I wish Google had done the same, but then, these other Social Signals compete for ad dollars with Google. We can't have that.
  4. Ryan Leslie

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    Totally agree Ed, but "overreaching" might be an understatement...

    Mike Blumenthal put together a great FAQ from the Google Forum and posted it here. Ed, I think you introduced me to him and I'm passing on the tip. Mike is the sharpest pencil in the box when it comes to this stuff and I'd encourage anyone reading this to pick up his RSS feed.

    Here is an excerpt from his post dealing with reviews:

    If a user just has a gmail account will they be able to write a review or must they also sign up for Google+?
    They will need to sign up for Google +
    So our customers are not able to leave reviews unless they are on Google+?
    Yep, you need a Google+ account to write a review. See the help page.
    Can reviewers leave anonymous reviews?
    No. At this point it is real names only.
    Is there any way to choose a nickname like we had in Places reviews?
    No

    I think this is a good thing, but it puts a HUGE barrier for entry up too. What effect do you think "putting your name and face on your review" will have on the collection effort? Secondly, if you have to have a + account to write a review, is the underlying goal of this change to steal market share from FB?
  5. JoePistell

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    For 18 months I have been pounding the table on how Google is but a few small steps from putting a body blow to the AutoTrader/Cars.com model. Google Castle has beat up other verticals, but not ours... yet.

    Here is a deeply detailed review on the few missing pieces left that Google needs to pull it all together.

    Is DealerTrack Chrome the Answer Google Has Been Looking For?

    Here's google maxxing out the ad real estate for auto parts:
    [​IMG]

    This auto parts model can easily be transferred to Used/New cars, but to create this system, google contracts with 3rd parties that manage the product attributes. These 3rd parties paid commission for ecommerce and there is no ecommerce in auto sales.

    Because of this a new model will need to be created to support our space.
  6. JoePistell

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    Here's my attempt to PUSH or FORCE my listings into Google's store, from which, Google adwords fishes it's images (and other data) from.
    [​IMG]

    I explored this deeply and found out why google has yet to crack our space (its in the DR blog article above)


    As always, I'd see all this and I'd finish my thoughts with "Be afraid Mr Chip Perry... Be very afraid".
  7. JoePistell

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  8. Ed Brooks

    Ed Brooks Sr. Refresher

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    Did you use Schema to markup your inventory Joe?
  9. ibdefaria

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    Would you rather limit the amount of reviews, but know that they were left by real people? or have tons of reviews and not know who or what posted them? This will make harder for business to post fake reviews about their own services. This will also stop people from posting or saying anything, knowing that it will be associated to their G+ account.
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  10. JoePistell

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    That trial was "pre-schema" Ed. To the best of my knowledge, Schema.org are HTML standards for the purpose of improving SERPs.

    For Google merchants, Google brings order to each industry by creating standards to the attributes of products in each vertical (pool tables, auto parts, TV's, etc). Once the standards are established and normalized across all products in the space (the responsibility of an outside vendor that contracts with Google), Google (aka the Dark Force) can map this data any where it wants.

    For our space, few vendors are as well qualified to produce what Google needs than Chrome.
  11. terrencegordon

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    Joe,

    Not to sidetrack this post, but aren't all Google Product searches pulling data from feeds submitted through Google Merchant Center (formerly Google Base)?

    I BELIEVE the reason there are no relevant vehicle-specific results is because the Merchant Center focuses heavily on products which contain UPCs (Universal Product Codes). Therefore most products in this "universe" have a value that is constant.

    Yes, vehicles have a VIN and it would be very easy for Google to simply set aside a new "Automotive" channel that used the VIN as a replacement for the UPC.

    Other reasons why this isn't happening is that Google requires the data to be complete. That means vehicles MUST have photos (not placeholders), accurate descriptions, etc. etc. Also dealers are consistently changing pricing on vehicles, which don't necessarily get changed in real-time on the SERPS.

    Someone (*wink *wink) would have to normalize that data and send to Google and essentially be hand-picked as that data provider.
  12. terrencegordon

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    I read this after my post
  13. Ed Brooks

    Ed Brooks Sr. Refresher

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    My thoughts are, data standardization isn't the biggest barrier to entry for Google when it comes to vehicle classifieds - Google is GOOD at data. Dealers (most dealers anyway) require a fair amount of hand holding and a good degree of customer service - Google SUCKS at customer service.

    Google announced today that they are moving Product Search into a Pay-To-Play, paid inclusion model called Google Shopping. Google may decide to get more involved in our vertical because they know there is real money in Automotive Advertising, but they would have to gear up strong to provide the sales and service support required in this space.

    BTW Does the timing of all this strike anyone else as strange? Get every merchant in the world in an uproar about a free Google product and then the next day, quietly, announce the transition from a formerly free Google product, to a paid one.
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  14. terrencegordon

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    Ed, I agree about Google's customer service. So don't you think Google would be better of leaving the data normalization to one or two partners ;)

    I'm blown away about the news of the Paid Inclusion model. This is going back 12 years to a model that didn't work with other engines (Inktomi, AltaVista). It will be interesting to see how merchants react. Something tells me there are few merchants relying heavily on Google Shopping results to drive the majority of their web traffic / conversions.

    I personally would rather pay Amazon.
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  15. Ed Brooks

    Ed Brooks Sr. Refresher

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    What I would rather see is a variety of sources that reflect the breadth of the Internet - exactly what was in place before Google set out to become Google-centric. Less than a year ago, you had Yelp, DealerRater, etc, all showing. Dealers that actually had earned a good reputation had the ability to shine. I fear that with a greatly reduced number of reviews, the dealers that want to "game the system" will have an easier time of it.

    I hope I'm wrong

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