Google Oct. 25 extended another olive branch to local business owners with Google Boost, a new online ad program that lets business owners build online search ads from their Google Places account.
Google in April revitalized its Google Local Business Center as Google Places to help local businesses surface information about their products and services on Google and Google Maps. The idea is to better compete with Yelp and other location-based services, such as Foursquare and Gowalla.
Google Boost enables business owners in San Francisco, Chicago and Houston create contextually search ads from Google Places. The ads will appear in the typical "Sponsored Links" section of Google.com and Google Maps results pages.
In Google's example of a restaurant owner in San Francisco here, a Boost ad surfaces when someone does a related search like for a type of cuisine and location that matches the restaurant.
The ad may include business name, address, phone number and Website, reviews and a link to the Place Page to feed consumers more info. In cases where a map appears alongside the results, a blue pin will point to the business.
Local business owners may create their ad of choice by providing a brief description of their business, a Web or Place page, business categories and a monthly budget.
Google Boost completes the campaign, designating relevant keywords. Boost users pay when a potential customer explicitly clicks on the ad.
Business owners in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago can sign-in to Places or claim their listing in Google Places and may see an invitation to try Boost in the account dashboard. Businesses located in other U.S. states can sign up to receive notification when Boost comes to their area.
Also, for those business owners concerned about how Boost may affect their listings, Boost Product Manager Kiley McEvoy noted:
"Placement in the "Sponsored Links" section of the page will, as always, depend on factors such as your ad's relevance and quality. Boost does not affect the ranking of the free, organic business listings in any way."
Boost comes nearly after a month after Google ad executives showed off contextually-relevant advertising technology from the company's Teracent acquisition.
Teracent's technology uses signals such as geographic location, language, time and Website content to change the content of an ad in real-time to make it more relevant.
Google earlier this month signaled its intent to ratchet up its geo/local effort by moving long-time search guru Marissa Mayer to run the business.
Mayer brings a strong artificial intelligence background, signaling a shift in Google's local business to focus on autonomous search to better bridge the gap between consumers and search results, and ultimately, advertisers.