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  • Writer's pictureJoe Karasin

Google Local Services Ads

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Google has been promoting a new ad for certain business classes called Local Services Ads. While most ad formats can be published through the Google Ads platform, Local Services Ads are created and promoted through a separate platform. Below, we examine a case study on these ads and how they are working for clients of Karasin PPC.

How Are Local Services Ads Different From Other Google Ads?

There are many ways Local Services Ads differ from traditional Google Ads run on the search and display networks. The first difference anyone running them will notice is that they are not an option in the Google Ads platform. Local Services runs on its very own platform with unique features. The dashboard, reporting metrics, and options are all very different. But the differences do not stop there.

The mechanism Google uses to place these Local Services Ads is entirely different also. Rather than setting up a list of keywords or targeting specific placements across the web, Local Services simply requires you to pick your service area, industry, and set a bid. Based on this information, when someone searches for your service in almost any way, they will see something like the image below.

This particular search for Realtors shows three local Realtors and gives their phone number. In this market, these particular agents have not finished the verification process, which earns them a green “Google Screened” badge. We’ll discuss the verification process in more detail below.

As an example, a Realtor we work with has almost the entire area of Cape Cod, MA in their service area. So when someone in Yarmouth, MA searches for an agent, our client’s ad appears. When someone in Boston searches for a real estate agent, it does not. Location signals are key factors in determining if your ad will display or not.

Another way this ad type is different is a lack of creative control. As you can see, all of the ads look exactly the same, save for the phone number, years of service, and name of the business. Google simply requires a headshot and some information, and then the AI engine creates and places the ads. This is a very convenient way of advertising through Google.

Getting The Google Screened Badge

Up above, we mentioned that the ads in the area we were in lacked the Google Screened badge. This is because the agents did not complete the screening process. The process is slightly different for every industry, but the main components are: Business information, business location, industry, years of service, service area, licensing information, business insurance (if applicable), and a background check.

The background check is the step that earns the green badge. Your ads will display as soon as all of the other components are in place, with the badge being added upon completion of the background check. Most of the checks are handled by Pinkerton.

The badge is thought to give consumers confidence in the various professionals they can hire. Some industries, especially home improvement contracting, can be rife with scams. Knowing that you have passed a background check can help you win a job, or at least get a chance to, before your competitors.

Cost & ROI

The most common complaint with Google Ads is the cost. It can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses to run paid search or display ads. While YouTube ads have been relatively inexpensive, the overall perception of Google is that they are a voracious money pit.

The cost associated with Local Services Ads tends to be significantly lower than that of other Google products. One major reason for this is that you only pay when someone contacts you, either via messaging or a phone call. You don’t pay for impressions or clicks.

For example, our client in Cape Cod received 12 calls in the first 3 weeks of running Local Services Ads. This only cost her $109.75. A typical click-to-call campaign in real estate can cost around $40 per call. The cost differential is stunning. In addition, her calls were all real people looking for help either buying or selling a home.

What Industries Could Benefit?

Many different options exist for these types of ads. Electricians, plumbers, painters and other contractors are eligible. These are some of the most searched for services, and we couldn’t find one that was using this ad format locally.

Professionals such as attorneys can also use these ads. Once again, we saw no ads for various types of attorneys that are eligible for ads like this.

The only industry that seems to have caught on is the real estate industry. We were easily able to find Realtor’s ads. It is no surprise however, as many real estate marketing companies are heavily promoting this service to their customers.

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