What are Google Maps Ads?

At the Google Performance Summit held in San Francisco on May 24th 2016, a variety of exciting & impactful new advertising and analytics features were revealed. Amongst these, Google announced significant changes described as “the next generation” of local search advertising. Google has identified local search as being hugely important for both business and consumers, as 94% of retails sales still occur in store. Furthermore, local searches are growing 50% faster on mobile than all other mobile searches. As a result, this next generation of local search focuses on better connecting consumers to local businesses, driving in-store footfall, and sales.

These innovative new features are gradually being rolled out and are envisaged to be available for all relevant advertisers in the coming months.  Google have broken these updates into 3 key pillars:

  • Local search ads
  • Promoted pins
  • Local business pages

Local Search Ads

Local search ads are text based ads, often complimented with a brand image from the advertiser’s Google My Business (GMB) page. These can appear both within the Google Maps app and Google.com extended maps results. Ads will be triggered when consumers are searching for a brand, product or service that is relevant to a business location.

Mobile Example

Mobile Local Search Ads

Only one ad can be shown at the top of organic results on mobile devices, whilst up to 2 ads above organic results on desktop devices.

Desktop Example

Desktop Map Icon Colours

Google are rotating ad icon colours from yellow to purple during the rollout for testing. Reprise have also seen variations in ad copy displayed; including some purely presenting store information from GMB, to others which use  search text ad copy from within the AdWords account. Controlling how these advertisements appear is currently very limited, however more advertiser control is envisaged to be available in the future.

Promoted Pins

Promoted pins allow businesses to highlight their physical business locations to consumers by displaying a branded logo within Google Maps – along with an accompanying text ad which also details the name of the business, review ratings, distance & directions, and promotional offers. Google has been testing this feature with Reprise in the Australian market since April 2016. However, this was not formally announced until the Google Performance Summit last month.

Mobile maps promoted pins

Promoted pins help businesses to stand out when consumers are searching for brands, products or services nearby.

Local Business Pages

After a consumer clicks on a local search ad, Google are now offering advertisers the opportunity to customise their business pages further with additional new features. The new look local business pages offer the ability to communicate special offers and browse product inventory, in addition to the existing information regarding opening hours, directions, phone numbers and store information.

Whilst local search ads and promoted pins help capture interest about a local business, the new local business page special offers feature help to provide an incentive for consumers to visit in-store and purchase.

According to Google data, 25% of customers avoid visiting stores due to doubts in stock availability. The new product inventory feature within the local business page gives customers transparency on store inventory and allows them to search for related products available in-store. Local inventory search builds confidence in the local consumer to visit a store and purchase.

Mobile local business pages

This feature requires the setup of several feeds within Google Merchant Centre and Google My Business. Google then perform a one off inventory level check. This new feature follows a trend from Google towards releasing progressively more feed based adverting solutions over the past few years within AdWords (e.g. shopping ads, lightbox engagement ads, local inventory ads etc.) and product inventory within the new local business pages is another great example of this. It is becoming increasingly important for businesses to provide well optimised product and business data feeds in order to engage with customers and take advantage of these new features.


Advertiser Implications

Location Extensions

Location extensions must be enabled within AdWords to utilise all of these new Google Maps advertising features. All are charged on a cost per click (CPC) basis which will include clicks on:

  • Click to call
  • Get directions
  • Location details
  • Store information clicks

How the auction works?

Local search ads and promoted pins will be served based on search query, browsing history, interests, customer/business location, time of day and bid. For example, a frequent visitor to the Bunnings website that then searches for drills on Google Maps will have a higher likelihood to be shown a Bunnings local search ad and promoted pin.

How can I get my ads to appear?

Local search ads are available now and Google is automatically enabling functionality for some advertisers who have location extensions enabled. As the features are gradually rolled out over the coming months we should see the change impact all relevant advertisers.

Promoted pins are still currently part of a closed beta for a select number of advertisers. As such, they are not available within the AdWords interface. However, it is expected that this feature will also be added and made publically available in the coming months.

No date has been given so far for the update to local business pages. As mentioned above, enabling the new product inventory feature will require several Google Merchant Centre data feeds to be set up and linked to Google My Business.

Next Steps

In a world where the ‘micro moment’ is becoming ever so important, bridging the gap between customers and businesses is revolutionising the value local search. The more effectively businesses can engage customer needs at this local level, the greater the impact on in-store footfall and sales.

As the new Google local search advertising features become more available, Reprise will provide up to date case studies on successes, learnings and any future product developments. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with your Reprise Client Advisory Manager to discuss any for further questions.

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Brian Bignoux

I have a passion for search and the digital sphere. I’ve enjoyed delivering digital solutions across a variety of clients for over 5 years and look forward to the many years ahead.

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