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Google Adds Images to Google Local

Google has now launched a widely expected feature for local businesses who want to target consumers by their geographic location, by letting them place photos and logos inside balloons that pop up on Google Maps exactly where their business is located. The new Local Business Ad system lets advertisers buy keyword phrases that include zip codes or other location information. Bookseller Barnes & Noble and retailer Ralph Lauren have been testing the product over the last several weeks. Users will also notice that certain searches on Google Local will display icons representing different types of businesses, such as a coffee cup for a café, a shopping bag for an apparel store, or a grocery cart for a supermarket. When the user clicks on the icon, a bubble pops up containing more information about the merchant, including a logo or a store photo and a link to their Web site. Local Business Ads operates in concert with AdWords, so advertisers still bid on keywords which they pay for on a per click basis. The terms they bid for place them on Google Local and Maps as well as in search and contextual results. Analysts like the new local feature and say the next step will be enhanced interactivity, via chat and video. For now, this is a good move forward for Google. The search giant definitely needed something real local businesses could sink their teeth into, and with more improvement in the local listings department, usage will continue to increase, drawing more advertisers from a deeper pool
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