Google Helps Local Businesses Go Places

Google may be global, but this week, they’re all about the local as they put the finishing touches on Boost for Google Places.

Boost is an easy to produce search ad designed to show up when someone does a related search. Own a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco? Then your ad might show up at the top of the page when someone searches for the best Kung Pao Chicken in the Bay Area. Google develops the pay-per-click ad from a short description supplied by the business owner and all of this is done using the dashboard in their Google Places account.

Says the Google Blog:

“Placement in the “Sponsored Links” section of the page will, as always, depend on factors such as your ad’s relevance and quality. Boost does not affect the ranking of the free, organic business listings in any way.”

Ebay Gets It’s Group-On

Ebay is the latest in a series of websites to partner with deal site Groupon and it  looks like a win-win for the two websites – but what about the site users?

The first deal to hit the site was The Body Shop offering $40 worth of product for $20 and just in time for the holiday shopping season. Groupon has its own eBay page which is tied to your IP address so you’ll only see offers that are national or local to your area. 1676 people picked up the deal today and as a bonus, they also received $1.00 in eBay Bucks.

eBay Bucks is a new loyalty program that gives you a small kick-back on every eBay purchase and purchases of related deals. At the end of the quarter, eBay gives the user back the bucks in the form of a gift certificate that they can spend on eBay.

In Hopes of Becoming Like Facebook, MySpace Apps Also Leak Data

Ask MySpace what he wants to be when he grows up and he’ll tell you flat out – “Facebook.” It’s a typical case of big brother worship and we shouldn’t laugh about it but it’s funny, you know. When the little one tries to dress and sound like his successful big brother. Clomping around in shoes that are too big, hoping his friends will come over and hang with you if you make it easy for them to connect.

But sometimes, idol worship can get you in over your head. Like this week, when The Wall Street Journal caught MySpace leaking user data through apps. Who does that sound like, huh? Who got caught by The Wall Street Journal just a few weeks ago doing the same thing? Facebook.

Could AOL’s Project Devil Be the Future of Display Advertising?

When it comes to advertising, AOL says bigger is better. They also say cleaner, more engaging and more focused is better, too and that’s why they created Project Devil.

Project Devil is a new form of display advertising that relies on online-magazine style content in order to promote a product. The ad is designed to occupy the entire right sidebar of a webpage, with every inch devoted to only one sponsor.

JCPenney’s devil ad has a slideshow of winter fashions, over a fashion video and below that is a widget showing their Facebook fan page feed. Olay features an ad with roll-over information and Lexus offers downloadable high-def images of their featured cars.

Afterlife Well Spent: Zombies Take Over

You may think of Sears as a stuffy, old fashioned brand, but they’re working hard to change your opinion with a brand new social shopping site and zombies!

Sears has outdone themselves with a Halloween site makeover that doesn’t miss a trick and is loaded with treats. They’ve taken the basic website and replaced the ads with zombie versions such as dead hands showing off rings and a fridge complete with brains on ice. Clicking through the links will take you to a real page where you can buy real items and how can you not buy with an enticement like this?

The center of the page features a Zombie Gift Guide where you’re asked to choose the zombie type (slow, cranky, dirty) and brain preference (runny, chilled, boiled). These lead to more zombie graphics with gift suggestions that are legit.

Local Franchises Lag in the Social Media Market

Over the years, my husband has spent thousands of dollars on tools from Snap-on, but his connection to the company was always through a local franchise owner and not with the corporate office. But if you look for Snap-on on Facebook, you’ll find only a few dealers have pages. Of those, most are out of date and one is friends locked. That’s no way to do business.

According to comScore’s Local Search Usage Study, (as reported by Clickz) “69% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on a social networking site.” 22% contacted a business after finding them on a social network and 67% of those consumers went on to make a purchase.

A Triple Grande Latte with a Side of iTunes: Starbucks Launches Their Digital Network

The last time I was in a Starbucks, I was surprised to see a large number of patrons hunched over laptops and iphones as they silently sipped their trendy drinks, completely ignoring the actual human sitting across from them. I imagine it’s this need to be virtually connected at all hours of the day and night that has led Starbucks to launch their own digital network.

Working in partnership with Yahoo! the Starbucks Digital Network offers in-store Wi-Fi users a taste of new music, local news and events and the low down on the latest lifestyle must haves.

In a company press release, Stephen Gillett, Starbucks executive vice president, chief information officer and Digital Ventures general manager (and geez, by the time you finish calling him, he’s late for dinner) had this to say: