If you take a trip down to Google Maps, you might see something new… ads! Well, new-ish. Search Engine Land reported some testing of Google Maps Ads way back in 2013, but since announcing that around a third of searches on mobile devices deliver local search results – web pages associated with services in your search area – at their Google Performance Summit, they have started rolling out next gen’ local search ads: Google Maps ads. Google is referring to these as “promoted pins” or “promoted locations”, and they add to the Adwords rainbow with their purple colour.
As with all Google roll outs, things take a bit of time to smooth out and it appears to be quite messy at the moment with inconsistencies across devices and some poor quality ads appearing. One example we looked at was for the search term “car hire”, executed in the Exeter area:
We found that a Google Maps ad / promoted pin appeared in the results on Desktop, but not on Google Maps mobile app or on the Google app itself. For the desktop result, this was quite tidy in that the promoted pin appeared in the default map area and stood out as it was differentiated from the others being purple as opposed to red. In addition, this location also appears on Google Maps without a search query.
It is strange that the same result wasn’t seen on the mobile apps, however, we are assuming that this is simply a delay in the full roll-out. It is possible that this particular Adwords campaign simply isn’t bidding for mobile search, however, we tried multiple search queries and didn’t see any Google Maps ads on mobile devices where they present on desktop search. Given that Google specifically started to roll this out due to the high proportion of local searches now happening on mobile, we would expect them to appear across mobile searches eventually. We’ll check back on these queries later, but for now this is a preview of how Google Maps ads will look on mobile:
One poor quality ad that we found featured a company which didn’t have a pin the search area anyway. When we searched “web design”, their ad comes up and if you clicked on the ad it simply opened up some additional information such as the website and phone number rather than the location of the business. Given that this appears on the Maps search, it would be fair to assume that the user is interested in finding out the locations of the companies that appear in the results.
Easy! Enable location extensions on your Adwords campaign. According to Google, to be eligible to show local search ads on Maps:
More information can be found on the Google support page.
Firstly, consider where these ads are being displayed: on Google Maps. Now think about the types of searches you enter into Maps. For me, if I am in a new town or city, it tends to be things like “pub”, “cash machine” or a brand search like, “Tesco”. If you are searching in Maps, clearly the location of the service provider is a key factor in what you are looking for and who you will choose. You wouldn’t search Maps for an online retailer for example, as their location is pretty irrelevant. For service providers such as a digital marketing agency or a PR agency, you may use maps to check if they are local and where they are based out of interest, but your primary avenue of enquiry is likely to be a normal web search. In terms of costing, Google state that for ads on Maps, you’ll be charged a standard cost-per-click for these types of clicks so it won’t cost anymore to have your ads displayed here but it will dilute your budget. So think about your business and decide whether or not your customer or consumer is likely to use Maps in their decision process. Coffee shop: yes. Online price comparison website: no.
Although Google Maps ads are a pretty significant change on the search scene, the next big change that’s due at some point (Google aren’t revealing much), are ads coming to the Local Pack. As reported by Greg Sterling, Google have now confirmed that you will be able to infiltrate the box of local results with Adwords. This is a pretty big development and will unlock a lot of opportunities for people to get into probably highest value real-estate in search. Watch this space..