Google announced it will develop campaigns for new adwords users for just $299 (http://services.google.com/marketing/links/jumpstart/jumpstart_more). Remember when Overture tried this? It was a nightmare for them. I expect it to be a nightmare for Google, even more so since their client services isn't up for the rush or hand-holding this will require.
I understand that both companies are trying to make things easier for the small business because they want the small business' money! The opportunity with small business is huge, especially in the yellow pages area. What is holding small businesses back? Complexity of the tools, fear of the cost since you really have no idea how to budget the campaign, and the lack of time. I would expect most small business owners have little time on their hands since they are marketing, management, sales, support and everything else for their business.
Small business owners are far more demanding than Search Engine Marketing companies. If you respond to a request/question from an SEM, they apply the knowledge across many campaigns and they understand the weaknesses inherent in the system. Small business owners may not even be computer literate and will need extensive education. If they don't get the education then they will slam the vendors with question after question. And guys, it doesn't matter how many FAQs you post on the website. If they aren't computer savvy they won't read them or even know what FAQ stands for. Neither Overture/Yahoo or Google have decent educational material for new users of adwords or Overture or SiteMatch or ....
I got a call the other day from a free music download site (seemed legitimate). He wanted to know why he wasn't ranking in Yahoo. I decided to talk with him so that I could better understand what website marketers go through when they try to figure out Search Marketing.
It went like this:
music guy: I used to show up really high in Yahoo for 'royalty free music'. Since April 15th I am nowhere to be found. Can you help me with this? Eric Ward said you were the best (thanks be to Eric).
webmama: Ah, I know exactly what happened. Did you pay Yahoo or Overture to get into the results?
music guy: I tried the Overture thing a while ago but didn't get good results.
webmama: Did you pay Yahoo or Overture to get into the non-paid search results (notice the beginning of the confusion here)
music guy: Yes, I gave them the $299
webmama: Good, but that is just for a directory listing. Have you paid anyone money around $49 to submit the home page into Yahoo?
music guy: what???
webmama: To get into the Yahoo results under the sponsored links, from Overture, who were bought my Yahoo but still call themselves Overture, you need to have two things happen: Yahoo's crawler..
music guy: What is a crawler?
webmama: Let's start again. There are three things you have to do to get well ranked in Yahoo: Overture sponsored links, Paid Inclusion to get into the 'free' listings, and pay to be in Yahoo's directory. Oh yeah, and you need to make sure Yahoo finds your site so its thingy can put it in the database.
music guy: If I give you $1000 can you do all this for me? I hardly know how to open my computer.
webmama: Well, I would love to but you would need to manage the Overture stuff and the Paid Inclusion because neither of those are fixed price and you will have NO idea how much they will be spending a day.
music guy: So if I give you my credit card can you do it?
webmama: Send me an email and I will look into it. But I would have to charge you at least $1000 just to do the submissions, which really leaves no money to do the marketing.
And I am one of the veterans in this business. [Ok, so I exaggerated the conversation a bit :)] We need to grow up and provide the right services to these poor people. Education is the key, not $299 programs which will just cause a higher-demand of time and energy from the vendors, which will in turn drop the level of service for the veterans like me. Just ask the guys at Overture what happened when they offered a similar service to Google's jumpstart.