I (Tim Judd) attended the morning session “Google’s Latest Word on Local” and while the description in the Agenda promised that “the reigning power in Local on line advertising” had a new sheriff in town, most of us mulling in the hallway before the early session didn’t expect much to be different. Then Todd Rowe, Google’s director of global SMB reseller partnerships, presented Google’s new approach to working with Local Ad Words Resellers. Now, I have sat through any number of presentations by various Google’s team at various conferences. Each one was given by a different person…the job of looking after Local gets passed around a lot at Google…they were uniformly mysterious cagey and generally opaque. Google is Google…and who the heck are you anyway was the general approach. The attendees would walk away scratching their heads, did Google understand the potential of Local Search? Did we just sit through an hour long session and not learn a thing?
Today was different. The new guy for local channel addressed the conference today and there was a surprising difference. The new guy isn’t from Google…he’s an ex SAP guy (elocallisting runs our accounting on SAP, btw) who is all about building and running a big powerful channel program.
While not actually apologetic he did concede that historically the Local Search crew had been inaccessible, inscrutable, and generally a difficult to work with (a hush came over the room, yeah we know this) and then something we hadn’t expected – that is going to change. In the new world, Google is appointing a Global Partner Council which will meet a couple of times a year and at those meeting (I picture them as happening in dark smoke filled rooms) Google will share the vision of Local Search and ask for input. Also they have up’d their head count, increased the number of partner relationships and they have decided that from now on they will actually answer email. That’s incredible, and very exciting. If it works and it gives us poor integrators and resellers better visibility into where Google is headed so we can plan our products and strategies accordingly that will help a lot.
Meantime, at eLocal Listing we’ll keep slogging away getting local businesses leads from Local Search, making the phone ring with new business for local businesses. The world is changing rapidly and if you are a local business even trying to keep up is a huge task. In fact it’s impossible. We’ll do what we do, we’ll get our customers found in search….and we’ll see what happens with the new Google guys.
I will keep my ears and eyes open to see if somewhere in a closet, empty room, or hallway, the real Google guys aren’t tied and gagged and desperately trying to get free and give the morning session on Google’s Latest Word.