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on Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Are you making the most of Google Places and location-based adwords since Google Adwords Express launched?

Today I came across something interesting when I was checking out how our Google Places entry was performing (Google Places, for those who aren't aware, is how companies appear in Google Maps and can be accessed at and noticed a new feature - Adwords Express - had appeared on my toolbar.

Google Places has not always worked for us...

While we've had several problems with Google Places over the years, including it mixing up numerous different entries we maintain, adding the wrong address details, and adding features which were then removed (at one point we had access to coupons and other features which were only meant to be enabled for American customers), we keep a close eye on Google Places, as the way things are moving localised searching is becoming more prevalent, and with mobile use soaring, it's only going to keep climbing.

The new toy!  Google Adwords Express

We run a few Adwords campaigns but not many, as much of our traffic comes organically - but when I saw this Adwords Express I had to have a go (I can't resist a new toy to play with!) so I set up a couple of adverts for the two main categories we fit into - Website Designer and Computer Support and Services.  My initial thoughts were that the minimum budget you were able to assign was higher than I would normally choose for Adwords campaigns (as most of our landing pages and ads are well optimised, we have a low cost per click rate).

For the Website Designer, the minimum monthly budget (note the term budget, not billed amount) is £70 - and the minimum budget for Computer Support and Services was £40 per month.  My jaw dropped when I saw the recommended (and of course, selected by default) amounts - £430 and £130 respectively.

The ad settings are pretty much the same as Adwords - headline and description - but another big issue for me was that the only options you have for a landing page are:

  • Take them to your website (specified in your Google Places account - you can't specify a particular landing page)
  • Take them to your place page

Another not-quite-thought-through Google release ala Google+

You may have seen me ranting about Google+ still not being available to Google Apps customers - well here's another rant.  Google Adwords Express is a great way to quickly set up a location-based advert targeted to a geographic area, with some key caveats:

  • You can't change the keywords, costings, or criteria being used after you set up the ad (which I would expect to be able to do in Google Adwords - the ads show, but they are read-only)
  • You can't remove inappropriate keywords - a big issue for several people already reported here - again due to the read only feature in Google Adwords
  • You can't create a Google Places ad in any other way than via Google Places>Adwords Express (so you're stuck with their rather high budget rates and poor keyword selection)
  • You can't specify a landing page targeted or relevant to that particular ad

There are probably loads more downsides, but yet again this smacks of another feature which Google has rolled out quickly without fully thinking through the implications of the restrictions imposed.  We're going to continue running our location-based ads and let you know how they fare - I'd be interested to know your experiences with these ads if you've used them!


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