Last year we saw Google send out a survey asking 1001 questions about monetization possibilities for the GMB and the business profile. Last week, we saw them hijacking Business Profiles and inserting Local Service Ad (LSA) call tracking numbers into the profiles. Now we now why; 1 + 1 = 50. Or rather, GMB + LSA + additional upgrade of your free profile now costs $50 a month.
Today, Tom Waddington reports that there is now an option in the Google My Business dashboard for LSA users (or at least some of them) to “upgrade profile” to include the Google Guaranteed badge. What do you get for your $50? Theoretically you get enhanced support and an “upgrade” to an LSA call tracking number so you can better identify the leads and record their calls. I say theoretically because support is at best iffy and its not clear that Google will be able to actually deliver. If they do, I would guess that many would sign on for the $50 a month just for that capability.
Obviously, Google has long been on a path of increased monetization and increasingly immersive search where the users is directed ever more forcefully into the Google
rabbit hole funnel where they can either view additional ads or preferably transact with the business so that Google can track and perhaps charge more for that privilege.
There is a lot that remains unknown about this program. Least of all whether it is just a limited a test and which categories is it being made available on. At this point it is limited to Local Service Ad purchasers (or some some subset of them) but as you probably know, the categories for this service are being expanded to more service type businesses like lawyers & real estate via the Google Screened Local Services ad.
Obviously this confirms that Google is planning on expanding billable features to GMB profiles at least in some categories. Historically Google has taken a somewhat vertical approach to monetization of the the local experience with hotels being heavily monetized with room availability ads and home services with “guaranteed” Local Service Ads. It is reasonable to assume that Google will continue pushing out GMB monetizations when they can get enough scale in any given vertical to make these sorts of “badges” work well.
Even on this program though, there are more questions than answers at this point. So stop back for updates as we learn them.