The Newest Ads Program from Google comes to Real Estate

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Displaying boldly above Google Paid Ads and the Google My Business results, the Local Services Ads inventory (LSA) is the powerful new kid on the block. Local Services Ads is an advertising platform that provides leads by means of a phone call or short message sent through the ad and received by the realtor, directly through the dashboard. These ads display in search alongside the Google Screened green check which denotes trust and quality. 

 LSA offers:

  • Greater Visibility as LSAs reside above Google Ads & Maps results
  • Trusted Results due to a rigorous screening process showcasing quality
  • Right Now Answers for today’s 24/7 consumers
  • A High Conversion Rate relative to other types of advertising

Presently, there are four primary Screened Categories:

  1. Real Estate 
  2. Law (further broken down into seventeen sub-categories)
  3. Financial Planning
  4. Tax Specialists 

While LSAs breathed much needed life and variety into the tired and well known selection of marketing solutions, they are still a chronically misunderstood and underutilized tool. Potential users may become discouraged by LSA’s long onboarding process, strict requirements, and their personal reluctance to try something new & unknown to them. As they are still relatively new, there is an advantage to early adoption and realtors in select markets are cashing in in areas where adoption has been slow. 

There are also some risks to not participating:

  • Missing out on calls & messages driven by a robust real estate market
  • Missing out on softer market opportunities before there is robust competition 
  • Not being explicitly “trusted” by Google
  • Paying more for less effective advertising through other means

For an industry that has seen so many ad options presented over the years, LSA is an exciting tool that is fairly simple to manage. While these ads are new there are intricacies to making them work well and ensuring consistent ad visibility. What this means is that an advertiser shouldn’t place themselves in the LSA layer without fully understanding the strict conditions LSA abides by. A poor response rate due to missed calls can keep a user out of the trust pack for a considerable length of time. The same story holds true for realtors who are receiving negative reviews.

From its positioning as the on-demand layer, and the closest parallel to just-in-time (JIT) inventory that we’ve seen in the advertising world thus far, we can reasonably infer that LSAs are just one side of the story. In order to build a coherent and sensible strategy, we strongly suggest pairing LSA, the paid layer, with Google My Business (GMB), the free layer. LSA is best used as an auxiliary tool to other marketing approaches, meant to offset deficits and uncover opportunities, not as a stand-alone strategy.

 How to Prompt LSA Results? 

The LSA ad units can be generally triggered in the Google Search Results when a consumer searches for “Realtor”, “Real Estate Agent”, or a host of others, plus the location, into Google’s search bar. A “near me” search should do the trick as well. This is by no means an all-encompassing rule as the LSA trust pack will not show for multiple reasons:

  • Not enough LSA advertisers in the queried location; the platform mandates a minimum level of advertisers to trigger for mobile & desktop results, respectively. 
  • Device/browser-specific cookies or cache issues. If you know you’re querying an active market, such as “Realtor Houston” and the trust pack does not populate, incognito mode/private browsing is a common fix.
  • Querying a non-supported Vertical (example: Doctor near me).
  • Querying a supported Vertical (example: Photography) in a non-supported geo; Not all Verticals are launched nationwide. 

 Job types as a way to query ads has not been mentioned thus far because job types themselves do not always trigger LSA ads. There is far too much variance among Verticals to suggest this as a rule. 

An example:

  • Rentals is a job type underneath the Real Estate category
  • Rentals near Houston will not trigger LSA results, despite a significant level of advertisers in inventory

As a participant in the Real Estate industry, it’s important to know how Real Estate results are triggered within LSA. Covering all possible permutations and combinations is not possible within the scope of this article. However, here are some common triggers:

  • Vertical: Realtor/Real Estate Agent/Real Estate Broker near [location]
  • Job-type: Buyer’s Agent/Seller’s Agent near [location]

 What does this mean for Agents & Brokers?

Google seems to support two pathways for this category in most States that are not always mutually exclusive: 

  1.  Entry as an individual Realtor
  2.  Entry as a brokerage firm.

As this inventory matures, Brokerages will likely rise to the top as they generally carry more stability and a larger reputation than an individual realtor. Until that happens in every applicable market, the ground is fertile for both realtors & brokerage firms to make their mark.

Quite simply, LSA means trusted results and an opportunity to stand out from the pack. They come at the perfect time, when tired marketing approaches have become less effective and more expensive. Though the LSA price-per-lead varies, the cost is very reasonable when compared with the large budgets Google has traditionally required. Also, the ads can be paused at any time, enabling you to build up your pipeline, but not investing more than you need to. Finally, and perhaps the most unique characteristic of LSA is that you only pay for leads you can do business with. Spam calls, you don’t pay… calls for a service you are not set up to provide, you don’t pay…the LSA system allows you to request and receive credit for any calls which you cannot service.

 Local Service Ads are part of a larger move by Google, providing consumers not only with the results for their search, but the best, most trusted results.

Learn more about how realtors like you are getting Google Screened and using Local Service Ads to drive new business.

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