Starting this month, Google is rolling out a new paid ad format in search results called local search ads. Available only for mobile, this new ad is triggered by queries that show local intent (e.g. queries that use terms like “near me”, “stores”, “dealers”). Advertisers who currently use location extensions and Google My Business will be eligible to serve ads in this new mobile space. Currently this local ad unit can serve on up to 30% of search traffic for keyword queries with local intent.
Local search has been growing immensely with recent data indicating that an estimated 84% of consumers search using local, “near me” queries. This impressive rise in local search activity is driven by both brands’ continued adoption of mobile search ads and entry into voice search. iProspect found that 52% of all paid search clicks in 2016 were mobile.
We are already seeing the impact of this new ad unit on mobile search traffic. Over the past thirty days, one iProspect retailer saw 6% of their overall mobile traffic leading to the product details page, and 2.5% of traffic generating calls to the store. Since this product is in its infancy reporting options are limited. If this unit is found to be a success Google will likely increase reporting capability in the future.
Why would Google roll out this new unit? Consumer search behavior is constantly evolving. The fact that more and more consumers are searching on their mobile devices and utilizing voice search has led to a corresponding growth in local-intent queries. Consumers also expect a seamless and friction-free search experience that gives them instant access to the results they need. Users are already familiar with using the local 3-pack to find results. This paid ad with a native look and feel cuts down on friction by leading consumers directly to a store page, map, or call; and it ultimately provides a more relevant result to the user.
For retailers, this paid placement provides an opportunity to increase brand awareness and visibility in an area that was previously difficult to break into through organic search. This opportunity is especially important on non-brand queries for local retailers who would otherwise fall below the fold underneath larger brands and big box retailers.” Ultimately, the introduction of the new local ad units could shift the balance in an already competitive environment and eventually lead to an increase in mobile CPCs.
This local ad unit gives advertisers another way to tap into and respond appropriately to inferred intent. When we see the location-based phrases in a search query, we can assume the user is on their mobile device, on the go, and looking for a certain type of store. Smart advertisers will be proactive about treating these type of queries differently by: