Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google's move to mobilize local businesses stands in sharp contrast with traditional media's web solutions

Today Google announced on its Mobile Ads Blog that the company is launching a new service for small businesses that is designed to assist businesses build their own mobile landing pages.
If you have ever checked out DYI app building sites you will immediately feel right at home. The mobile website help Google is offering is very similar to the app builders: pick out a template, a color scheme, upload a logo or two, write some copy – bingo, you're done.

Of course, being Google, the service is free (you can't compete with free), and will no doubt drive more AdWords and other advertising for Google.

But it's 2011, do small businesses really need this kind of help? Certainly companies like those behind the Yellow Pages are already helping out their customers like this, right?

To find out I checked out the AT&T Yellow Pages website. The first thing the telecom wanted to know was my zip code which I promptly typed in only to find out that they could not help me. Of course, I thought, I live in one of those areas were the Yellow Pages are really published by Dex.

OK, so what does have to offer me? Well, while Google's service is simple, simple, simple, not to mention free, Dex's mobile solutions are included in the company's website design area.

On to Patch, the AOL company that is launching hundreds of local news websites. Each of the local Patch sites are built to all look the same, right down to that annoying pseudo-grass used on the sides of the site, even the sites for the high desert of California where grass means wildfires.

In any case, don't expect any help there because the link to "Advertise" always takes you to a form you must fill out – how helpful.

No, despite it being 2011, local merchants are still not getting digital help from the media companies that claim to serve them. Despite local newspapers, hyper-local websites, and direct mailers, Google is simply stepping into the opening that exists because media companies still see technology as something to be outsourced.