10 Things You Need to Know About the New Google Maps Local Search Ads


Last week was quite eventful for PPC marketers. Google announced a number of changes coming to AdWords and Analytics during the Google Performance Summit, with mobile being the huge focus.

Google revealed several incredible mobile statistics. We were introduced to Expanded Text Ads. We got a sneak preview of the new Google AdWords interface. And so much more.

Another big change was what Google described as "the next generation" of local search ads.

new google maps local search ads

So what exactly are these new Google maps ads? What’s changing?

Here are answer to the top 10 questions you’re asking (or should be asking!) about the new Google Maps local search ads.

1. How are Local Search Ads on Google Maps changing?

The new Google Maps ads are designed to help businesses be more visible at moments when consumers are searching online (especially on a mobile device) for somewhere to eat or shop.

In the coming weeks and months, Google will be revealing several new Maps ad formats and features that are designed to drive more foot traffic to your physical location. These include Promoted Pins (including brand logos), in-store promotions, customizable business pages, and local inventory search.

Google's goal is to optimize the Google Maps experience so that users actually see the ads but without going so far as to become obtrusive and become a distraction to users who may be driving (e.g., there are no plans for interstitials or audio).

Google introduced local ads to the Google Maps app in 2013.

Want more tips? Download our free guide: Complete Guide to Geotargeting & Local PPC

2. Where will the new ads be shown?

The new local search ads will appear within the Google Maps app, on the Google Maps mobile, desktop, and tablet sites, and on Google.com Expanded Maps results.

google maps app ads

In the Google Maps app, which has more than 1 billion downloads, a single ad with a purple ad label will be featured in the top spot above the organic results.

desktop google maps ads

For searches within Google Maps, Google will show a maximum of two ads with a purple ad label at the top of the search results.

google expanded maps ads

For Google.com location-related searches (officially known as Google.com Expanded Maps Results), users who click on the "More places" link at the bottom of the Local 3-Pack will first see a Google Maps ad in the top position with a yellow ad label, above the other map results.

3. Why is Google making these change?

During the Summit, Google revealed some insane statistics that should make all marketers stand up and take notice.

google maps ads new

Here are seven mind-blowing mobile stats that explain why you must bridge the gap from the mobile world to the physical world:

  • Around 90 percent of all global sales will happen in stores, as opposed to online.
  • Nearly a third of mobile searches are related to location.
  • Location-related searches have been growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches overall in the past year.
  • Over a billion people now use Maps.
  • Google searches (on Google.com and Maps) guide consumers to 1.5 billion destinations every year.
  • 84 percent of consumers conduct local searches.
  • Three out of every four people who search for something nearby using their smartphone end up visiting a store within a day, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase.

If your business has a physical location and you want to grow, then it's extremely important that you make it ridiculously easy for people to find you online when they pull out their smartphone to search for what you sell.

4. What are Promoted Pins?

Google will soon bring Promoted Pins to Maps. These branded pins are designed to help your business stand out to people who are nearby or who will walk or drive right by your business. It's your opportunity to be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys.

For example, if you run a restaurant, your ad might convince someone passing by to grab a bite to eat. Or if you want people to stop at your gas station, your Promoted Pin could convince people to pull in and fuel up.

Here's what Promoted Pins look like:

google maps promotion pins

So if you were in need of a pharmacy, Walgreens' ad might appear at the top of your search results (assuming there is one near you). In addition to highlighting details about Walgreens, you'll see an in-store promotion ($3 off contact lens solution).

The right promotion could help your business drive more store visits.

For example, let’s say you're on your way back from successfully buying contact solution at Walgreens. There's a Starbucks a couple blocks away and you're a regular customer. To entice you to visit, Starbucks might use a Promoted Pin on Google Maps to offer you $1 off any beverage if you use your rewards card.

5. How does Google Maps choose which ads to show?

There could be hundreds of stores near your location but only a few precious ad spots. How does Google know which listing is the most relevant to the searcher?

Google says it is using a "variety" of signals, including:

  • Query context.
  • Location.
  • Search/browsing history.
  • Interests.
  • Behaviors.
  • Time of day.
  • Demographics.

What Google Maps is doing is similar to the ad serving used on the Google Display Network.

So if Google knows that you don't often go to Starbucks, Google Maps won't show you Starbucks ads. Pretty smart, eh?

6. What else is changing with Google Maps?

Local pages are getting a new look, all designed to increase foot traffic to your store.

new google local business pages

When someone taps on a local search ad, they'll be taken to a page that advertisers can customize. The local pages will include important business details such as store hours, phone number, address, and driving directions.

Businesses can also highlight offers that are unique to that promoted location (e.g., 10 percent off an item) and allow people to search for items in your store's local inventory. Google will only show local inventory if it is relevant to your business.

7. How can I display local inventory?

According to Google data, one in four people avoid visiting stores because they don't know whether a specific product is in stock. That's why you should bring local inventory information into your customizable local page, along with ability to search through that inventory.

How do you display that information? You need to provide Google with your inventory feed. You can see Google's specifications here.

8. How much will the new local search ads cost?

Advertisers are currently charged on a cost-per-click basis for Google Local Search ads. These clicks include:

  • Get location details.
  • Get directions.
  • Click-to-call.

9. When will the new local search ads roll out?

The new local search ads are currently in beta. Google hasn't revealed an exact date when the ads will become more widely available, but it's a safe bet they will start rolling out to more advertisers within the next three months.

10. What do location-based businesses need to do?

While you wait for access to the new ads, there are a couple things you can do now.

First, and most important, you must enable location extensions. Only ads with location extensions enabled will be eligible to show. Location extensions are proven to positively impact your performance.

You can advertise on Google Maps right now. Just check that all your information in Google My Business is complete, accurate, and up to date. Any inaccurate information will make it that much harder for people to find you when they're ready to buy. Which could be right now.

For more helpful tips, check out this Ultimate Guide to Google Maps Marketing.


Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Jun 02, 2016

Thanks guys! Thats a really helpful article.
Promoted Pins are a great new ad weapon for sure!

Jun 03, 2016

Thanks for the post !! With the new google map changes sure there is a boon for all business especially with the promoted pins and local inventory
Bizbilla b2b portal

Riyaz Alam
Jun 08, 2016

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the update. This post has made me understand the in and outs of the Update. let see how marketers runs for it. :) Nice to read it first on WordStream.

Lindsay Beardsworth
Jul 13, 2016

thanks for the article!

do you know when this will be rolled out?

Thanks again


Mark Loyal
Nov 01, 2016

Can you target mobile only?

Dense Digital
Jan 19, 2017

Great post. Thanks, Larry! Yet another way to up your Advertising Game!

- Dense Digital

Matty - carpet dood
Jan 30, 2017

I hear there ne new changes to the google map pack that they are becoming like home service, and that they were testing there new ads on the mappack in calfornia, do you know when this would hit UK?

Apr 25, 2017

Google maps is for advertisers, not for users.
I can barely use the map because so many things are highlighted that I have no interest in.
it is like Google only cares about where advertisers want you to go, not where you want to go.
Google, you got too greedy

May 11, 2017

Promotional Pins will be the downfall of google maps - I know it will for me. As soon as I find a substitute, I'm gone. They need to make this optional. If I want to know where the nearest Pet Store is - I'll search for it. Get that crap off of my map - I'm freaking driving here!

Jun 13, 2017

For god's sake, how do I turn this OFF? As a "consumer" I can guarandamntee you I will NOT be stopping off at any business stupid enough to deface my GPS with ads.

Nisha Puri
Dec 21, 2017

Thanks for sharing useful information .. I am looking for google maps scraper free tool which helps in mining prospect data as per my selected niche.

Really Nerds?
Jan 21, 2018

Are you guys seriously happy for more fucking ads? This is a step backwards and your entire article sucks. We dont need need business paying their way to the top of the search lists or being a different color pin on maps. The little shit stores with bad business will still be, shit stores with bad business after they pay for an ad spot.
You talk about the 1 billion downloads like its super special. Its a free GPS and it comes stock on millions of phones.
"Three out of every four people who search for something nearby using their smartphone end up visiting a store within a day, and 28 percent of those searches result in a
purchase". Your brain dead. People are searching for that store for a reason. Here is a real stat for you.
Three out of every four people that visit this website NEVER RETURN.
"For example, if you run a restaurant, your ad might convince someone passing by to grab a bite to eat. Or if you want people to stop at your gas station, your Promoted Pin could convince people to pull in and fuel up". How much did you guys get paid to type up this bullshit? Nobody if going to be driving with GPS and look down an fuck me you guys are so dumb.
Again NOBODY wants a fucking ad to pop up when your about to hit go on your destination. People type in Walgreens on the GPS because obviously to find out where it is. Who cares what the ad is your going to the store and will see the monthly sale. Your the type of cuck who will sellout and try to say more ads are a good thing.

Tony C
Feb 18, 2018

I think this article is really meant to show how much Google is evolving with its maps technology. It's the inevitable that the pack ads and maps possibilities will never stop evolving.

Leave a comment