Google Favorite Places – Gimmick Or Serious Business?

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Google has released it’s latest push into marketing for local business with a product titled ‘Favorite Places on Google’. If you’re a small business with an online presence, or considering one, the first question you need to decide on is whether this is just a Google gimmick, or a serious business marketing opportunity?

Favorite Places in a Nutshell

What is it? Favorite Places is really just a gallery of 100,000 US businesses. To get a listing on Favorite Places, your business must be a popular search destination on Google Search or Google Maps and be listed as a local business.

Those businesses that qualify will each receive a window decal with a barcode that they need to display. Visitors and passersby can scan the barcode with an appropriate mobile phone and they will be taken to that business’s Place Page – a mobile version of your local search listing. There they can read about your business; leave comments; and/or star rate your business.

Gimmick or Serious Business?

This is the real issue. Here are some questions to ponder:

  • how many businesses will bother putting the window decal on their shopfront window (if they have one)?
  • how many people will bother scanning the decal to access the business’s Place Page?
  • of those that do scan the decal, how many will bother to rate or leave a comment (and we know people with negative comments are more likely to act than those with positive comments)?

As a reputation management tool it raises more issues. Sure, you can keep an eye out for any negative comments that may be entered. However, another argument suggests that not having a listing keeps that door closed for negative comments.

My premise for this post is to ask whether or not this is another gimmick or a serious business marketing opportunity. I’m sure from Google’s perspective it’s a serious product. If it can realize its full potential, then it could be an excellent business marketing tool.

There are some niches where the potential could be huge. Entertainment and dining out are two areas that come to mind immediately. Outside of those niches, you would need to assess what benefits mobile web browsing brings you your business.

However, we are talking about human nature and can be pretty apathetic to this kind of technology. The bottom line is, while this tactic has the potential to be a great tool, it will most likely become another gimmicky toy that goes nowhere – at least, in the short term.

You can read more about Favorite Places through the official GoogleBlog.