Google Tags Review

Image of Google Tags

I’ve been experimenting with Google Tags for about a month, and have some data to share.

What Are Tags?

Google Tags is the name of Google’s $25/month advertising service designed for local businesses. It highlights your company with a special symbol and message on Google Maps, or on the 7-pack which appears in the regular search results. Here’s an image of the 7-pack with a couple of Tags:

Google Tags in 7-pack

The Tags are the yellow markers appearing on the map. You can also see that the businesses have a yellow marker and message displayed under their listing in the middle of the screen.

Do Google Tags Work?

In a word, yes. Tags increased the percentage of people taking action on Google Maps by 84%. The traffic was probably worth ~$125 if being purchased via a pay per click search campaign.

It won’t turn out this well for everyone though. The company running this experiment was:

  • Listed in the 7-pack for a number of popular searches (generating over 1000 views/month)
  • Listed in a 7-pack that had no other advertisers using Tags

If your listing does not receive very many views, it will be harder for Tags to overcome their flat-rate fee. If there are other advertisers using Tags, you also might not see as much of a boost.

I also have to mention the caveat that the Google Places dashboard is notoriously unreliable, so there’s likely to be some noise in this data, although our analytics backed up the results that could be checked.

Some additional data:

  • Clicks on the actual Tag only represented about 10% of the total actions taken
  • In general, a higher portion of viewers seem to be taking action in recent months than in the past – but the jump from less than 6% to over 10% is dramatically above the trend.

Tags allows you to highlight one of several different items – you can choose between your website, photos, a coupon, or a video. This Tag was promoting the company website, which I suspect may not be as effective at increasing actions as other options, particularly a coupon. If any of the options aren’t available to you, your company needs to add the element to its Places page (the option to advertise a video will not exist if you do not have videos on your page).

What About The Future?

Although Google Tags returned an impressive performance in this example, there’s a real downside. If this performance proves permanent , more advertisers will begin to use Tags. At some point, valuable searches will be covered with Tags – which will leave no business really standing out, but Google raking in fees from everyone involved.

There’s little we can do about this though – so I recommend you try out Tags asap, and take advantage before they become too common (right now many 7-packs don’t include a single advertiser). As of this writing, Google is providing a free trial of Tags.

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