Local searches are growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall and now a third of all mobile searches are local. In the “mobile era” Google has started getting serious about adding ads to Google Maps. Google has been experimenting with ads in the maps for a couple of years now, and earlier this week at the Google Performance Summit they introduced the “next generation of search ads” for Google and Google Maps.
These new ads are said to bring a more “branded and customized experience” for advertisers and marketers when it comes to Google Maps. Promoted pins are one of the biggest things to come out of Google Map ads. Users will now see branded pins along their route or nearby locations, something that MapQuest has done for a few years now. Local pages are also getting a new look with new features and customization. For example, businesses will be able to include a range of content types as appropriate to their categories such as local product inventory, discounts or promotions.
The purpose of these ads is not to drive online traffic or conversions but to help increase offline foot traffic to your store or location. To track foot traffic and in-store conversions from ads, Google has created “AdWords Store Visits” which up until now has only been available to large brands and retailers. During the performance summit, Google indicated that they are looking to expand Store Visits data to include small businesses as well.