Google Business View gets customers inside South Hills stores

Published Jun 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm (Updated Jul 1, 2014 at 9:34 am)

Cynthia Phillips knows competition. After performing for three years with the Radio City Rockettes, she now owns and directs the Kickline Dance Studio close to four other dance workshops along a mile stretch of Georgetown Road. Her number one listing on search engines is no accident, she said. “We maxed out our website and felt we were good with social media outreach, so we wanted to take prospective dancers inside the studio,” she said of her investment in Google Business View, a modified version of the company’s famous maps product that offers virtual tours.

Phillips paid $800 for an independent contractor licensed by Google to shoot 360 degree panoramic pictures and optimize them so they can be used as real estate agents have done for years online: give a sense of being there without being there. “A basic panorama package costs $400,” ProFromGo media group owner Chris Vendilli said. Vendilli is one of only a few photographers certified by Google in the Pittsburgh region.

Those who have greater floor space pay more to show off accordingly. “We have virtual tours set up at three of our Rex Glass and Mirror stores. We paid $3,000 for the shots,” marketing associate Carolyn Rulong said. “We were looking to redesign our website, and when we found Google offering basically what’s Google Streetview for your business, this made much more sense.” She said it also provides her a real-time sales tool when she visits with customers outside the store. “This is one of those things that solves the problem of ‘how do I show my husband or wife that I liked this?’”

Business View is just the latest example of Google’s push to incorporate its products into everything online, Vendilli said. “Google’s ‘My Business’ also just launched a week or so ago, and that incorporates all of your business materials, analytics and tracking data. That, coupled with Google Plus, allows a business to get the most out of promoting itself as well as keeping track of customers,” Vendilli said.

Phillips said she understands her business and others, like restaurants, can do well with this type of show-off advertising. “But is an insurance agency going to show its chairs? Or a hardware store? You have to know if your business fits this model.”

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