Google has stolen a march on its web-based competition by becoming the first company to dip its feet into the waters of location-based advertising and marketing.
The new platform which is aimed squarely at local business is being rolled out initially in Portland, Oregon, and will be the first of its kind to focus on the local business area through a series of online, location-based recommendations.
Building on the social Yelp-like service launched earlier this year, Google has launched Hotpot, a new service based on data and information from Google Places, but has given the application a distinctly user-friendly feel. It’s still possible to view all the ratings and review features of Google Places. However Google has aimed this recommendation engine directly at the average consumer creating an application that is visually fresh and functionally simple. The initial information provided is concise and not overwhelming, but all the necessary information is there for those who might wish to delve deeper.
As part of the trial, Google will be sending out window decals and kits to local businesses in the Portland area.
Bernado Hernandez, Google’s Director of Emerging Marketing explained that “these kits are a multi-flavoured sampler of marketing materials that can help businesses get even more exposure, get them rated and reviewed online and get more customers through their door. The samplers will include basic cards and stickers as well as “high-tech, Google-ized goodies.” Any local business can ask for one of these kits as long as they’ve linked their business to a Google Places page.
Perhaps the most important part of the ‘kit’ is the Google window sticker. It comes complete with inbuilt Near Field Communication (NFC) – a neat little package that allows smartphone users to download additional information about the business by simply holding their phones against the decal. According to Hernandez “suddenly stickers are cool again!”
Trials of Hotpot are set to continue throughout the coming year.