Google Home Services Ads: Right for your company?
While websites such as Thumbtack.com and homeadvisor.com have been known to work for connecting consumers and services, the high volume of inquiries versus low close rate has many of our clients wondering if there is a better option. With its beta release in the summer of 2015, Google Home Services hopes to provide a streamlined platform for business/consumer interfacing. We're here to give you the scoop on this platform, still in the early stages of its development.
Using a similar business model to the Uber app, Google Home Services Ads is aimed at connecting home improvement companies to clients in their area. As with other AdWord services, companies subscribed to the service are advertised in the conventional Google search list as well as in-app based on the consumer’s keywords and their locality. This means that as a registered company, you’ll reach people searching for the exact service you provide, in your preferred location.
All the simple workings
Once a potential client has found your company via the in-app search or Google search, they can call or message you directly from the ad. The app then allows you to view, manage and respond to these queries, as well as to set up appointments with your potential clients. The app also allows you to view your performance stats to better customize your ads to target better suited clients.
As with the Uber app, once the work for a client is done, the client is then given the chance to leave a rating based on their satisfaction with your service. Higher ratings equal a higher rank amongst your competitors and thus more exposure to potential clients. When a user searches for “Landscaping Rhode Island,” for example (although the service is not yet available in this region, but we’ll get into that later), a list is issued showing several matched subscribed companies ranked by rating.
Google is still experimenting with the format, but it seems that for the time being this will replace the organic results provided by Google Maps. The spots for the top three companies, being the most visible, will therefore be highly contested. Should Google Home Services make it through the beta phase and continue to replace free business listings with sponsored lists of this sort, Google Home Services may well become the new industry standard for online advertising.
Benefits of Google Home Services (to companies)
Apart from the customer review system, Google imposes stringent background checks and qualification criteria on companies registered with Google Home Services. This vetting system, which investigates everything from criminal record, reputability, and whether or not a registered company is insured, serves as what Google calls a “badge of trust.” The additional security this brings potential clients is similar to that experienced by Uber users, and bodes well for the future of the app.
This model will undoubtedly allow companies with established reputations and customer service records to rise above the tide of less reputable companies. Smaller businesses focused on their customer experience will also greatly benefit from the rank and rating system, allowing them to stand out even amongst competitors with larger advertising budgets. Perhaps most importantly, companies only need pay for the leads they receive, making Google Home Services a smarter advertising option for skilled deal closers.
Will Google Home Services work for high-end home improvement companies?
While the service seems to be a game-changer for licensed handymen and artisans, for high-end companies seeking large contracts, Google Homes Services has yet to prove itself as a viable option. As of yet, the biggest downside to Google Home Services is its lack of availability and inclusivity. Currently, the service only extends to plumbers, electricians, cleaning services, and locksmiths. More recently they have expanded to include heating, venting and cooling companies. For the time being, at least during the current beta testing, the program does not extend to complete landscaping or construction companies.
Because of the currently limited subscription base, it remains to be seen whether the extra exposure granted by the new AdWords system will narrow the ratio of inquiries to closes, or simply result in an inundation of unviable queries.
At the moment, Google Home Services is only available in selected participating cities in the San Francisco Bay Area while beta testing is underway, and has very recently expanded into the greater Sacramento metropolitan area. And for now, the service is accessible by invitation only. Depending on its success during the beta testing in these areas, Google hopes to roll out to the rest of the country in due time.
Despite skepticism following the shutdown of Google Compare, Google’s failed dabbling into a similar platform aimed at allowing clients to compare insurance prices, Google Home Services does have the potential to streamline the process of connecting consumers with the companies nearest and most suitable to them, while providing companies with profitable leads. This however will be limited to the less expensive home improvement projects. Why you ask? Well, the differentiator is the buying journey. People don't spend $75,000+ on home improvement project just because it came up in an ad on Google - they do extensive research. As for the timing, the extended testing period of the service, beginning in summer 2015, indicates that the actualization of this may still be a long time coming. For now, Google Home Services remains an unfeasible option for most.