Google has been testing “Sponsored Ads” as part of the Google Maps result 10-pack for the past few months. Today, one of my local business listings in San Jose, CA started showing a link for “Create enhancement.” Google says, "Enhanced listings are being offered in limited areas, but we hope to expand soon. Because this is a limited trial, it is subject to change. We're using your feedback from this trial to improve our products and services and help local businesses grow!"
From what I can see so far, it is just like adding bling to your eBay listing. It is just a subtle little thing to enhance your profile to make it more noticeable. Google is offering a month free trial, then $25 a month after that. Take a look:
The “Get Directions” enhancement:
The “View Photos” enhancement:
Read the Google Help topic for enhancements. Here is a list of the enhancements that it says they offer:
- Website for your business.
- Photos of your business.
- Videos of your business.
- Coupons for your listing.
- Menu for your restaurant.
- Reservations page for your business.
- Driving directions to your business.
Honestly, I like these much better than the sponsored local business listings. The amount of advertising real estate used up where there were 3 AdWords results, some sponsored local listings and then the map was really looking obnoxious. Google is so successful because of how unobtrusive their advertisements are. I could not imagine them rolling out those ads after seeing them. Hopefully they choose to take this route.
I do not feel like Google is ready to take the local business center to this level. Local search is a very hard field to stay on top of. The amount of spam in the LBC is still far more than is acceptable, and the LBC just does not feel as refined as the rest of Google's products. In fact, one of my accounts was completely locked out of the LBC and I still do not know why. No customer support, a generic locked out message and weeks of waiting for an answer does not entice me to start paying for enhancements!