Last week, Google quietly rolled out a new kind of search ad—called Google Boost.  Boost is intended to be used for locally-focused businesses that want an easy, pain-free way to get some added exposure when local searches are performed.

Currently, Boost is in beta, and is only available to customers in three U.S. cities:  San Francisco, Chicago, & Houston.  There are plans, of course, to roll it out to the rest of the country, and interested parties can sign up to be notified when Boost opens up in their city.

Boost ads will appear in search results when location is a focus—for instance, “mechanic in Chicago”—and will appear above the organic results and above the local business map.  The real eye-popper about Boost, though, is that your business icon on the map will turn from red to blue when you’re running a Boost ad—meaning your location will stand out from all the rest.  Here’s a sample:

It’s like a simplified version of Adwords, specifically intended for local search.  No more spending hours on keyword research or bid adjustment.  Once you’re signed up, which can only be done through your Google Places account, Boost will simply display the ad (and the blue map marker) on any search for which your Places listing was already showing up.  Sweet.

Business owners will need to describe their business, select a destination URL for the ad (either the Google Places listing page, or your corporate website), set a spending limit, and choose the categories they want their ads to show up for.  Stats on an ad’s performance can be viewed from the Google Places dashboard and the service can be cancelled at any time.

I am pretty excited about this.  It will offer an easy way for smaller companies to tap into the power of search ads without having to master Adwords or pay high hourly rates to their consultant.

Google Boost and Google Places + Video

But what does any of this have to do with video?  Glad you asked.  Because even though I’ve written about this before, this point bears repeating:  You can add videos to your Google Places page, up to a total of five.  We even have a handy step-by-step guide on how to add your video to Google Places.  So Google Boost will provide a way for you to help drive customers to your videos—at least whenever they’re searching locally for the products or services you offer.  And just like Adwords, you’ll only pay when a user clicks on your ad, making this a highly targeted method of advertising.

You can find out all about Boost on the Google Places Help page the company set up.  I’ll be anxiously awaiting Boost’s arrival to my city, and look forward to writing about the service in more detail after I’ve had first-hand experience with it.