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Do you want that blue balloon found next to certain listings in Google Maps? Most listings have the red balloon, but you want the blue one as it really stands out. Here's how to get it.
First, the blue balloon denotes a sponsored Google Maps listing. It means that this business is using Google AdWords Express to promote their website and Google Places page. If you are already using AdWords you may not want to proceed with these instructions, but say you don't care about click performance, you just really want that blue balloon!
Allison at Google AdWords has explained to me how you can get the blue balloon. First, you will need to create a Google Places page that uses the SAME login as you use at Google AdWords for your regular pay per click account. Within your new Google Places account you will see a link to AdWords Express or you can login directly to AdWords Express at http://www.google.com/adwords/express/. Once you have your Places page set up, just enter your credit card information and website information.
AdWords Express will not allow you to manage your pay per click account as you typically do in the AdWords control panel. It is a streamlined and fully automated ad serving program. You cannot set keywords, bids, or targeting, or for that matter even create ad text. AdWords Express will set up generic keywords (in many cases just your business name or service catagory), set your ad targeting to a 15 mile radius (you will not be able to change this), but it will allow you to select a monthly click spend range.
The next time you login to your regular Google AdWords account, you will then see a new ad campaign appear. The campaign name will consist of a string of letters and numbers and is grayed out. What you see is a read only copy of your Google Places AdWords Express advertising program. You cannot make changes in AdWords, just read what is there. To make any changes or to stop activity you will need to login to AdWords Express or your Google Places account.
Then voilà! You now have a blue balloon next to your paid ad that will show in Google Maps and in some Google organic listings.
Do I recommend this course of action, meaning advertising on the super simplified and automated AdWords Express platform? Only if you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to AdWords, and only if your monthly budget is under $500 for clicks for a 30 day period.
If you are a power advertiser and already have a well set up AdWords account and pay a professional manager, I do not recommend following this course of action just to get the blue balloon. As long as you have location extensions set up in your AdWords account, your AdWords ads are already showing in Google Maps – just not with the blue balloon.
From what I have seen in viewing these accounts once set up, the keywords are very, very general and the type that you would typically pause in a well-managed AdWords account as low performance high dollar click cost keywords. I personally don't feel the cash drain and poorly targeted activity is worth it just to get a blue balloon.
About the Author
Nancy McCord is the founder and President of McCord Web Services LLC which provides Google AdWords account set up and management. Since 2001, Nancy McCord has developed a reputation as an expert on web visibility and how to use search engine marketing for lead generation. You can visit Nancy and her firm at www.McCordWeb.com. Connect with +Nancy McCord at Google+, @mccordweb on Twitter and on Facebook.