A year after first allowing small businesses pay a flat monthly fee to promote themselves via bright yellow markers, called ‘Tags,’ on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps, Google is dropping the feature. The company says that while “tens of thousands” of businesses used Tags, it has made a “decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial.”
This is the second noteworthy shift this month in Google’s local efforts, which have been led since last fall by Marissa Mayer, who had said the company’s local offerings needed to be consolidated. Google said last week that it would fold its Hotpot local recommendation service, which allows users to rate local establishments, into Google Places, which features profiles of small businesses.
The company has repeatedly moved back and forth on how to monetize the business listings in Places. Prior to releasing ‘Tags,’ Google had allowed businesses to purchase what it called local listing ads, which allowed them to promote their profiles in search results and on Google Maps. It pulled that feature only three months after introducing it.
Google now seems to be targeting yet another ad product — Google Boost — at small businesses. Boost lets businesses create ads from within their Google Places accounts, which then show up on Google search results and on Google Maps. The ad units include links to the businesses’ Places page, a star rating, as well as a blue pin showing where the company is on a map.