Google Testing Color-Coded Local Ads in Google Maps
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By: Ginny H.
Users searching for your business on Google Maps will be seeing something new in the next few weeks: purple pins. Google is currently testing a new approach to displaying ads in Google Maps, which may change the way your company approaches local search marketing.
Test Uses Purple Pins for Paid-Placement Ads
The test, which was started in April, uses color-coded pins to differentiate ads from other results. Under the test, Google Maps search results for any local business will show red pins for organic results with a single purple pin for a paid-placement ad.
Google is also using color-coding in the text-based left column search results that match up with Google Maps pins. In those results, the ads are currently appearing in the #1 slot. Ads include a small purple box with the word “Ad” inside of it.
Balance of Ad Revenue vs. User Trust
This test appears to be Google’s way of maintaining user trust while increasing ad revenue generated by Google Maps. Google has been running a number of similar tests on other products, changing where ads are displayed and how they are set apart from organic results.
For Google, this is especially important. Google’s revenue stream is dependent on the AdWords program, but Google’s value to advertisers comes from the trust that Google users have for the company’s search results. Color-coding has proved an effective way for the company to give ads high placements without seriously compromising user trust.
Impact on Local Search Marketing
For local search marketing teams, there are pros and cons to the color-coded Google Maps ads. On the positive side, ads on Google Maps currently stand out. Right now, there is only one ad per search result, meaning you have a single purple pin amid a sea of red. Also, that ad is given the #1 slot, with no competition from other advertisers.
On the other hand, the differentiation may make it less likely that users will click on ads. It also remains to be seen whether or not Google will expand the number of ads per page, which would increase competition among local search marketing efforts substantially.
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