For A Limited Time, Google Offers Tax And Accounting Professionals Free Coupon Ads
By Joe Dysart
From the January-March 2007 Issue & 2007 Tax Season Survival Guide
Apparently, there is such a thing as a free lunch — at least in Google Land. The Internet search Goliath is offering tax and accounting professionals and all other U.S. businesses free coupon advertising on its Google Maps site (http://maps.google.com) in an effort to get more businesses to “think Google” for local advertising. Essentially, the coupons pop up on Google Maps when a visitor types in a zip code or town name, along with an industry keyword.
A number of practitioners are already advertising on the Google Maps system. A search on Google Maps for “CPA New York, New York,” for example, brings back sponsored links to Dwarka P. Kalantry (http://kalantry.com), Ratafia & Company (http://www.ratafia.com) and Lenard A. Silverman (http://lencpa.com).
Advertising via Google Maps’ “sponsored links” guarantees high placement in search engine returns when Web users enter in specific keywords, such as CPA New York.
Moreover, similar searches for accountants in other zip codes yield similar sponsored link results. With Google’s coupons, tax and accounting firms across the country can also enjoy the same kind of exposure offered under the company’s sponsored links program. The primary difference? For a limited time, Google’s coupon advertising service is being offered for free.
“Google’s goal is to connect searchers with the information they need, whether it’s halfway around the world, or in their neighborhood,” says Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and president.
Given Google Maps’ current reach, the company’s offer to host coupons from any and all U.S. business at no charge is substantial. The site saw 23 million visits from Web users in June 2006 alone, who used Google Maps to get driving directions, generate maps of specific areas, and find businesses located in a particular town or zip code.
The service also enables users to get additional information on a business, such as a firm’s phone number, street address, hours of operation, directions to the firm, Web and e-mail addresses, user reviews and similar info, by clicking on business names returned by the search.
In practice, creating coupons for Google Maps is a snap. Any practitioner can simply sign up for a free account at Google Local Business Center (www.google.com/local/add), click on the “Coupons” tab, and follow the online prompts to auto-generate their own coupon from a template in about five or 10 minutes. No graphic design skills are necessary, and you don’t have to be a champion wordsmith. Essentially, if you have the wherewithal to keypunch in your business name and a few words about your coupon offer, Google Maps will do the rest for you.
“The coupon creation process is very simple, which suggests businesses will use it,” says Greg Sterling, an analyst with Sterling Market Intelligence (http://gesterling.wordpress.com/about), a market research firm that monitors local search advertising. The fact that 70 percent of U.S. households now use the Web as an information source when shopping locally, according to a March 2005 study from the Kelsey Group (www.kelseygroup.com), may also help convince businesses to take Google up on its offer.
For established firms already in Google’s database, the coupons generally appear online in about a week or so, after Google calls to confirm that the business has actually posted a coupon to its Maps site. Brand new businesses or businesses not on Google’s radar may have to wait up to six weeks to see their coupons online. The reason: Google prefers to verify the existence of these businesses by mailing a postcard to the business address. The card includes a PIN that the business can use online to activate their business listing on Google and trigger their coupon to “go live.”