There’s no doubt that at some point in your life you’ve used Google Maps to help you find an address. Released in 2005, Google Maps is now used by more than 1 billion users every single month. From helping people find addresses, explore streets, view ariel photography, and keep them up to date with traffic information, it’s easy to see why this simple maps app has become so popular.
With so many people using Google Maps to help them find directions, landmarks, and addresses, it was only a matter of time before adverts where introduced. And today, practically any business owners can harness the power of maps and run adverts for their business in just a few simple steps.
Maybe you’ve seen these types of ads pop up while you’re driving around, or searching for local businesses nearby. Considering how many people actively use online maps nowadays, they’re an excellent way to drive customers to your store.
If you’re a location-based business such as a restaurant or retail store that relies on foot traffic to generates sales, then local search ads can transform your business overnight. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how Google Maps works, the different types of local search ads available, and how you can set up your own.
How Google Maps Ads Work
When it comes to adverts in Google Maps, there are several ways in which they can appear. The three main types of Google Maps adverts are search results ads, promoted pins and in-store promotions.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of each one and where they can be found in the Google Maps app.
Search Results Adverts
When performing a search on a mobile device for a business or service within your area on Google Maps, it will return the nearest businesses based on your physical location and their ratings.
If you want to be at the top of these maps results in a specific area, then Google Maps offers paid local search listings in which businesses can pay to appear at the top.
This type of advert clearly helps businesses stand out from the rest. If you’re a local plumber and want as much exposure on mobile searches, then this is an excellent way to do it.
In this example, the listing for Earlsfield Dental Studios is a paid ad and therefore appears at the top for any search results relating to dentists in that area. In addition to appearing at the top on mobile search, the ad also appears at the top on desktop searches.
Promoted pins are another type of paid ad listing and a great way to get noticed when users are browsing areas on the maps app. Unlike the search results ads, these bolded pins pop out on the map without the user having to search for anything.
This is great for getting the attention of people who might not necessarily be searching for a business or service but are driving or walking past the area. Not only can this lead to an increase in visibility, but also more store visits.
In this example, the grey square is promoting Expert Evidence International. Depending on the type of business being promoted will determine what colour and style the icons are. For restaurants and bars, the pins icons look like these:
In-store promotions are where businesses place ads on their business page that tell the user of special promotions they are running. These promotions can be anything from buy one get one free offers, to discounts on specific products.
In this example, the pin itself is listed as a standard Google My Business store, but when a user clicks on the profile, they’ll see the special in-store promotion.
To make Google Map ads as effective as possible, advertisers can choose to enable all three of the different ad types to really increase their maps visibility. Of course, they can also pick and choose which ones are suitable for them as more features usually end up costing more per click.
The Benefits of Advertising on Google Maps
As you can probably see from the screenshots above, running ads on Google Maps is an excellent way to increase your businesses visibility and exposure. However, the chances are that Google Maps ads aren’t the only ad strategy you have in mind, so why should you run Google Maps ads over Google search ads? Well, there are a number of benefits you get with running maps ads that can’t be replicated on search ads.
The first and most obvious benefit is that map ads make your business stand out from the crowd compared to your competitors. If someone is using Google Maps for directions and they happen to drive past your store, then they’ll see a promoted pin icon which will grab their attention. Compare this to search ads, and a user has to specifically search for something before the ad can be displayed. Yet on maps ads, the user only has to be in the area for the ad to be triggered. This is especially useful for restaurants and local stores that mainly rely on foot traffic to drive sales.
Another benefit of advertising on Google Maps is that the ads also prompt users to take action. Since most people seeing the ads will be searching on their mobile phone, Google encourages users to engage with the ads with tap to call and tap for directions buttons.
This greatly helps increase the chances that a user will visit the store while they are in the area.
How To Advertise On Google Maps
Now you’ve seen how local search ads can help businesses increase their visibility and foot traffic, how do you set them up?
Thankfully, the entire process of setting up Google Maps ads is relatively easy and can even be done by Google Ads beginners. Here are the key steps you need to follow to get them up and running.
Setting Up Your Google Maps Ads
Before attempting to set up any ads on Google Maps, the first step is to ensure you have a Google My Business profile up and running. Without one, you won’t be able to show up on maps at all. And quite frankly without a business listing in 2020, you’re missing out on a lot of exposure.
Registering a GMB profile is relatively easy but can take a while for the confirmation code to arrive, so we suggest requesting one as soon as possible. Once you have an active GMB profile with all your businesses details, it’s time to set up some ads.
If you don’t already have a Google Ads account, then again you’ll need one in order to run ads. If you already have an account from running ads to your website, then there’s no need to create another. The important thing is to use the same email address for both the GMB profile and the Google Ads account.
In order to create ads on Google Maps, you’ll need to already have some search ads running as the local search ads require taking advantage of location extensions.
Adding The Location Extension
Once you’ve set up search ads and have them running, if you click on the left-hand menu panel and go to “Ads & Extensions” it will reveal a range of ad extensions. In this case, we want to add a location extension which will allow you to link up your Google My Business profile. Click the extensions menu and the blue button at the top with a plus sign to begin adding a new local extension.
You’ll then need to select your Google My Business profile to confirm the local extension, and it should appear in the extensions list like below:
Setting Up Location Targeting
Once you’ve got the location extension set up, it’s time to set up the specific location targeting for your ads. To do this, you’ll need to click on the locations section on the left-hand menu and then click the blue circle at the top.
You’ll then have to select an active search campaign, from the list and enter the specific area you want to target. We suggest targeting the same postcode/zip code as your business and using radius targeting to target people within the area.
Be sure to set up bid adjustments for areas close to your business. By doing this, people who are close to your business address will have a much higher chance of seeing you on Google Maps.
When your ads are approved and running, you can always check how people are interacting with your local ads by filtering what “type” of clicks they receive. This will segment everything into location details, mobile clicks to call, and driving directions interactions giving you an idea of how well your ads are performing.
With Google Maps guiding users to over 1.5 billion destinations every year, it’s easy to see how beneficial advertising on Google Maps can be. If you own a local business, then having a Google My Business profile is essential for taking advantage of this Google Maps traffic.
No matter if you’re a business owner or agency, hopefully, you’ve learned everything you need to know about Google Maps advertising and how to set up campaigns correctly.
So what are you waiting for? Start taking advantage of that traffic today!