This is a massive cultural shift for Google, which doesn’t like sales (even though it has plenty of salespeople for big companies and ad agencies) and would like people to use its self-serve advertising method. Another cultural shift is moving away from the search company’s so-efficient, but hard to explain, auction-based method to price ads, instead selling monthly flat offers.
The article points out that Google’s brand is a great asset, here. They talk to a small businessperson who says she is pestered by calls from website which she shuts down — but when it was Google, she paid attention.
Even though the story only makes a passing mention of them, we’ll bet this new effort is largely driven by Groupon, which has suddenly cracked the code on small business advertising. Now Google needs to catch up in a big way, and Groupon has shown that if you want to sell to small businesses you need, well, salespeople.
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