For the past few months, Google’s been making some major changes to modernize their ad serving methods. First came the monumental SERP switch-up that nixed side ads and reduced the total number of ads served. Then, it updated the formula used for serving unique ad formats, giving priority to advertisers with higher ad rank.
Just this week, they announced their third big change of the year—Google Maps now officially falls under the umbrella of the Search Network, rather than being bundled in with Search Partners. In addition, only ads with location extensions enabled will be eligible to show.
Initially, the rollout will only apply to the Google Maps Android app, but it will be extended to the iOS app and the desktop site later this year.
Want your ads to show? Better enable location extensions!
What Does This Mean for You and Your Ads?
In their email announcement, the Google crew explained that goal is to create a more “seamless, relevant ad experience on Google Maps.” I suspect that they’re also trying to break local advertisers of bad habits. Far too many neglect to use location extensions, which can have an incredibly positive impact on performance (and offer a better experience to the searcher). Others didn’t realize that Google Maps was included in Search Partners, so they neglected to show ads there altogether. This change is likely a strategic move to encourage local advertisers to embrace more of Google’s local-specific features.
As a result, we’re likely to see significantly more ads appearing on the maps platform. Previously, advertisers who wanted to avoid serving ads here simply opted out of Search Partners targeting. With this change, it will be unavoidable, provided that you have location extensions enabled.
Advertisers who have historically avoided Search Partners should beware—they may see an uptick in both impressions, clicks and spend, now that the standard Search Network has expanded its territory (if their location extensions are enabled). On the flipside, advertisers who had been showing ads on Google Maps through Search Partners previously but do not have location extensions enabled, will likely see a dip in traffic.
This change should not drastically impact the way you manage your account. If you have a physical storefront or are a locally-based services business (like a plumber), be sure that your location extensions are enabled, so your ads will be served on the Google Maps platform. If you don’t fall into this category of advertisers, it’s probably best to skip location extensions.
Want to learn more about Google Maps marketing? Check out Dan’s post here!
About the Author
Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.