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google locationGoogle Places. That's the new name of Google's Local Business Center. The search giant has rolled out a host of new features for local advertisers, including a mobile dimension that could help push QR codes into the mainstream.

Google says four million businesses have already claimed their physical location on the service, which displays relevant information from the web, including photos, reviews, facts, as well as real-time updates and occasionally, offers from the business itself. All that remains, along with a host of newly rolled-out features that are already available, or about to be, in major US metro areas:

google tagsNew ad products: For $25 per month, businesses in select metro regions can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags.
Service areas: Displays which geographic areas a business serves. If the business lacks a storefront or office, the address can now be private.
Photos: Businesses in select cities can request a free photo shoot of their interior, which Google will use to supplement existing photos on Place Pages. Businesses can sign up for the free service here.
Customized QR codes: US businesses can download a unique QR code from their dashboard page. Google suggests using these on business cards and marketing materials. When customers can scan them with certain smartphones, they're taken to the mobile version of the business' Place Page.
Favorite Places: Round two of Google's Favorite Places program include mailing window decals to 50,000 US businesses. The decals contain QR codes that, again, take smartphones to the relevant Place Page.

Local's big. Mobile's big, and the two are inextricably entertwined. Google Places, in incorporating mobile web pages and QR codes as de facto elements of its local marketing initiatives, is sending a strong message to marketers and consumers alike. Smart phones have been around a long time, but America is hardly Japan - a country that has a QR code on the back of every can of soda pop and on every packet of tissues and matches. And customers know what they are and what to do with them.

Over here, we're nowhere near that level of mobile adoption, even if smartphones are rapidly overtaking "dumb" mobile devices as the standard. Google can't change mobile overnight, but it's big enough and influential enough to introduce "hidden" mobile features, such as QR codes, to the broader public and smaller marketers alike.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 20 April, 2010 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

160 more posts from this author

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Fran Jeanes

Fran Jeanes, Internet Business Consultant at i-contact web design

Thanks for the post Rebecca. With Google getting in on the 2D barcode game and location based interaction getting really hot, Google Places is definitely going to give impetus to QR codes and help them go mainstream in the US. Looking forward to it!

over 6 years ago

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tim diaz

Im very pleased that google is making this kind of move. I love Google and fall more in love everyday! I just used google to help me find a company to ship a yacht to Australia. Yacht Exports. Look them up. Theyre awesome. All thanks to Google.

over 6 years ago

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Diane Corriette

Thanks for this information. Will look out for the changes in the UK too. Good to know Google are taking local search seriously

over 6 years ago

Rick Noel

Rick Noel, Digital Marketing Consultant at eBiz ROI, Inc.

Google local is a highly beneficial Internet marketing tool that is essentially free. I say essentially as their is content input involved and a validation step before your business listing is activated, but with a little effort (or $ if you hire a 3rd party to complete), you can create a listing with no initial or recurring fees from Google. Businesses can also share up to five videos on your free Google local listing. You can track impressions of your listing, actions and view a report that shows action breakdown (i.e. clicking for driving directions vs. clicking through to your website), as well as top search queries that trigger your listing to be in a search results. We recommends that all client take advantage of the free local listings offered by Google, which have the added benefit of showing up in blended search results triggered for select search terms (dentist, plumber, internet marketing services)`, referred by some industry vets as the "Google 7-pack".

over 6 years ago

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Scott Mosteller

This is a Great Post. I have never heard of the QR codes. Can you explain The QR code and how to use it?? I work hard on helping my clients get found online. Great Article!! Thanks, Scott Mosteller

over 6 years ago

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb, Digital Marketing Consultant & Author at self-employed

Scott, Take a look at this description of QR codes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code Basically, they're matrix codes. When a smartphone scans them, they deliver information, e.g. a text message, web page, etc. Think of them as wired bar codes.

over 6 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

There is two problems with this that is going affect how business uses it

  1. If everyone pays for it, whats the point of difference
  2. Is it going to be those with $ win more business so get even more $

over 6 years ago

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