Google, in its relentless pursuit of becoming more personal, has made its first foray into the world of local news in the form of Bulletin.
Bulletin is an app that aims to provide the tools which will allow local residents to report on local news themselves, and others the opportunity to read said news, doing away with local news outlets altogether.
The publicized aim is to give power to the people and let them tell the local stories that are not being told. But anyone in search knows that you need to peek under the curtain to see what the Wizard of Oz is really doing.
Why Has Google Created Bulletin?
The most telling bullet point on the Bulletin page is:
Open: Bulletin stories are public and easy to discover: on Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps
In other words, while Google has not been successful at making much of a mark in the world of social media, it recognises that a lot of useful data is being shared in the form of local news, this gives them a foot in the door.
Additionally, Google can’t help but have noticed the success of sites such as Medium in which users are able to post their own news stories and have them easily searchable.
Lastly, Google has long been shouting about Micro-Moments, those moments in which you suddenly realise what you are looking for and do a quick search on your mobile with (forgive me) “near me” intent. This is a market which Google genuinely sees potential for growth as search becomes far more personal. This app gives Google direct access to the ‘local zeitgeist’, allowing them to see what matters to the local community at any moment and provides greater granularity in regional search.
So, the big question, how will this affect search marketing?
The short answer is that in the near term, not much.
The app is currently in a very limited pilot, available in Nashville, TN and Oakland, CA. Google will see how this pilot goes as to whether they will look to roll it out further. And, as is always the case with Google, we should take the creation of this service with a pinch of salt.
We’ve seen how quickly they can change their mind and how fickle they are with the number of man hours that they dedicate to any one project.
However, this does open the door for real, hyper-local marketing in a way that is only currently possible through Twitter and Google My Business. The issue may arise that business are discouraged from writing too much about themselves (the old 80/20 rule) and as such we may end up with ‘Local Content Creators’ which are regularly leveraged.
I founded and manage Ninja Commerce, a full service digital marketing agency which specialises in eCommerce. If you would like any help with your online presence, feel free to get in touch.