During Day 1 of ILM:06, Google’s head of SME product development, Dan Rubinstein, spoke about a new small-business Web site development tool for SMEs. Like many efforts we’re seeing in the marketplace by paid search providers, Web hosting companies and interactive advertising resellers, this “hosted business pages” service is meant to bring more small businesses online.
Rubinstein posited that there was a drop off in AdWords sign-ups right at the point in the process when you must enter your Web site URL the place where you want sponsored links to lead. He hypothesized that many small businesses (with varying levels of tech savvy) wanted to get into “this whole Web advertising thing that everyone has been talking about,” not knowing that you first have to create a Web page before you sign up for AdWords. So many in this boat went to Google to sign up, and then were stopped in their tracks when they realized this.
This data has driven Google to push harder on offering free Web site development and hosting for SMEs something they have started in the past with Page Creator, and something Yahoo! has done with its free local listings product. This new Web site development tool will be integrated with AdWords so businesses seeking online advertising solutions with Google can create a simple landing page as part of the process. For Google, this could be a response to some of the user-friendliness that Yahoo!’s long-awaited Panama SEM platform (released today) will have, and its potential to appeal to a wider segment of the SME marketplace. ClickZ explains more on the new Google product.
On a larger scale, this represents one of the challenges and areas of initiative for paid search players over the next year something we have begun to call the “Webification” of SMEs. Given slowing growth in search engine marketing for some companies, the name of the game in ’07 will be making it easier for SMEs to establish a Web presence and expanding the addressable market. To some degree, this has been addressed by Web development and hosting companies such as Affinity Internet, and interactive advertising resellers such as WebVisible, which alleviate the process of getting small businesses into online advertising with a continuity of services across many ad media.
There is also a big opportunity for retailers such as Home Depot and Costco to offer online advertising and Web development/hosting tools to the many SMEs that they have close relationships with especially service businesses. This can involve simple landing pages or microsites, something that was supported by a study released last month by WebVisible and Nielsen/NetRatings. Look for increased Webification efforts throughout ’07.