Google is giving up the ghost on Google Tags, the advertising service that let businesses flash little yellow shout-outs to call attention to their offerings on Google.com and Google Maps.
Google launched Tags last April as part of the evolution of Google Local Business Center to the Google Places local listings service.
For $25 per month, businesses in some cities could procure Tags to make their listings stand out and entice customers with coupons, videos, Websites, menus or even custom messages.
The company first offered Tags to businesses in Austin, Texas, Atlanta and Washington, Houston and San Jose, Calif, but rolled them out nationwide last June, an indication that the product was successful.
In fact, Google said tens of thousands of businesses have used Tags to reach customers.
But then Google launched its Boost local ad platform last October, allowing the same local businesses who were attaching little Tags to their listings to actually create their own contextual search ads from their Google Places account.
The ads appear in the "Sponsored Links" section of Google.com and Google Maps results pages. For example, Boost ads appear as local pushpins on Google Maps In when someone does a related search.
Local businesses customize the ad to include their business name, address, phone number and Website, reviews and a link to the Place Page to feed consumers more info. Google completes the campaign by designating relevant keywords, and Boost users pay when a potential customer explicitly clicks on the ad.
If that sounds like Google's AdWords, it basically is, albeit for the little guys. It's a much more organic way to advertise on Google compared to Tags, which feels bolted on. This is why Google is doing away with Tags, though Google Product Manaher Shalini Agarwal noted:
"We've made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial," Agarwal wrote.
"To that end, we've now halted new signups and will be working with existing participating businesses over the coming weeks to help them meet their marketing needs with other Google products where possible."
No doubt Google wants to move Tags users to Boost as it seeks to make inroads in local search and compete with Groupon, Yelp, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and others. Microsoft just launched its Bing Business Portal to battle Google Places.