Googles Local Search Ambitions Lie in Serendipity

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-10-30 Print this article Print

IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds said Google's emphasis on mobile stems from its belief that mobile devices will replace PCs as the vehicle people will use most often for search in the future. Mobile will be where most advertising will take place over the next decade.

Indeed, Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice president for product management at Google, said Google's mobile search ads were operating at a $1 billion run-rate for the year.

With Google Place Search and Google Boost, Reynolds said, Google aims to pre-empt traffic that in the past has gone directly to Yelp, TripAdvisor, CitySearch or other local information providers.

Place Search includes links to Yelp, and those other local search specialists, so Google has clearly made some concessions as it seeks to charm consumers with quality results.

"Time will tell whether the local independents will be net richer or poorer because of Google's new offering. Yelp and others have a vital competitive advantage over Google in owning the socially generated content - the review data - that adds the major value to the local listing," Reynolds said.

"This is another area where Google's failure to master the social Internet is forcing it to innovate around a fundamental problem. They need to take a leadership position this market, not slip and become a follower."

Yelp and its ilk aren't Google's only rivals here. Foursquare's check-ins provide great ad-hoc opportunities for, say, local Starbucks stores. Twitter is a microblog magnet for location-based promotions. Facebook Places is in the mix, too.

Google, and these other vendors have time to carve their own niches. The multibillion-dollar mobile advertising business has yet to be fully leveraged and is still evolving.

Moreover, Google is working to change and advance the local search game. Mayer will leverage her strong background in artificial intelligence to build the autonomous search engine Google CEO Eric Schmidt described.

Such  technology would send users who opted into the service suggestions, alerts and promotions from, for example, stores participating in Google's Places program, or even museums, theaters and other attractions and businesses.


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