Google’s Latest Offering For Local Businesses: Mobile Barcodes

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The more we learn about Google’s recently launched Place Pages, the more we realize that it is a key part of the company’s aggressive push into mobile marketing.

First, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) made it easier for business owners to create (and searchers to find) mobile coupons directly from the Place Pages — or one-page microsites that list a business’ contact info, photos and some reviews. Now comes the launch of 2D mobile barcodes; businesses can put the barcode up in their window, searchers can scan it with any camera- and app-enabled phone, then read the reviews and other info on the Place Page, and even get mobile coupons on the spot. There’s no cost to get a Google-branded bar code, but with increased local search competition from content services like Yelp, the new feature is aimed at increasing Google’s utility to both searchers and small business owners.

Google sent barcodes to 100,000 of the most popular local businesses in terms of search traffic; dubbed “Favorite Places on Google,” the businesses cover 9,000 towns and cities in all 50 states. The QR codes can be scanned by a variety of mobile phones, including Android-powered phones, the iPhone and BlackBerry devices, provided that the user downloads a barcode-scanning app. Google suggests its own Barcode Scanner app for Android, and the $1.99 QuickMark app (iTunes) for the iPhone, among others.

The company plans to scale out the barcode program, though no specifics on how many new businesses will get decals, or when. Google is hyping its Place Pages to business owners that didn’t get included in the first wave — telling them to claim their free Local Business Center Listing, make sure that the contact info is correct, and “enhance” their listing with photos, reviews, etc. — as the best way to get considered for the next round.

Robert adds: The decals are being sent to stores in the US.

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