Google Offers Tags Free for 30 Days to Lure Businesses

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-07-22 Print this article Print

When Google launched its Tags local business promotional service earlier this year, I expressed a little skepticism that people want to spend $25 per month for a small yellow call-out.

Tags spotlights coupons, videos, Websites, menus or even custom messages to lure consumers:

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I wrote about the idea in April:

Where is the value add? Tags don't change the rankings on Google search or Google Maps for those who use it. I mentioned this to Carter Maslan, director of product management for local search at Google. He told me:

"This gives an easy way for a business to stand up and say, "I have something to say to you that you should consider when you're looking at the results."It's a virtual sale sign.

Still, would people pay $300 per year for that tiny yellow icon to offer people free stuff? I wasn't sure.

That was when Tags was only available in a handful of cities. Tags went nationwide in June.

I'd like to claim my initial skepticism as substantiated by Google's move July 21 to make Tags free for the first 30 days.

Though Google claims "thousands of businesses are already using Tags" to offer coupons and promotional videos, the company is letting business owners try Tags free for 30 days.

Head-scratching moment: If thousands of businesses are paying you$25 per month, you've proven the model works.

Would you really need to offer such a service free to entice businesses to try it out? And wouldn't existing customer be upset about the break new customers are getting. That mystifies me.

Google Product Manager Shalini Agarwal spun it this way:

The positive feedback has led to overwhelming excitement about helping even more business owners connect with local customers. So to spread the word about Google Tags, we're offering every business across the country the chance to try Google Tags free for 30 days!

I appreciate the thought, which is something along the lines of spending money -- giving away free ad placement -- to make money.

Google already gives away a lot of free software, advertising on top of it as its business model dictates.

But why give away the advertising money Google works so hard to generate? I guess $25 billion in the bank gives one fiscal license.

Still, if Tags isn't broke, why give it away, especially when it's a new subscription ad model Google is testing?

Of course, lots of Web services subscriptions today start with free trials.While I believe the trial model works for new services, I'm not sure a successful service needs to become free to gain more traction.

Google could have just asked existing customers to vouch for the program through anecdotes published on Google's Lat Long blog.

Anyway, Google Tags is free for 30 days. Users can cancel at any time during the trial without paying any monry. |

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