Google Location Searches Grow 50 Percent Faster Than General Queries

As a result, Google is adding Promoted Pins to Google Maps and expanding its use of beacons to drive omnichannel sales.

Google is doubling down on services and technology related to its promotion of “micro-moments,” as searches seeking a particular kind of location have been rising 50 percent faster compared to more regular queries, executives said at the Google Performance Summit on Tuesday.

Therefore, Google is promising to “re-imagine” its primary AdWords product for the mobile-first world with new local search ads across and Google Maps. Among the biggest changes is the inclusion of Promoted Pins — previously a concept that began with Google’s subsidiary Waze — within its mobile map platform.

Location Gets Larger

“Nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location — and every month, people visit 1.5 billion destinations as a result of those searches on Google,” said Jerry Dischler, VP of product management and the head of ad products at Google, during his presentation. “These are moments for your brand to be there [on Google Maps] and be useful. For example, if I want a cup of coffee, I reach into my pocket, and I’m on my way to the nearest café. Or, if I’m running low on gas, the closest station is only a few taps away. We do this for every kind of micro-moment, from ‘What do I want to do’ to ‘What do I want to buy?’”

That means consumers will see more “branded, customized experiences for businesses on Google Maps” with the promise that advertisers will increase store visits.

The addition of Promoted Pins comes three years after ads first began appearing on Google Maps. Last month, Google began adding place-based ads in the local finder results. At the same time, Google Maps locations were also added to results in general search.

“First, we’re experimenting with a variety of ad formats on Maps that make it easier for users to find businesses as they navigate the world around them,” Dischler said. “For example, Maps users may start to see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops, gas stations or lunch spots along their driving route. Local business pages are also getting a brand new look — to encourage consumers to explore your store before they even arrive, we’re adding new features like special offers and the ability to browse product inventory.”

Google's new responsive mobile adsOn Target

Dischler was armed with stats to buttress the changes Google is bringing to marketers as part of its vision of bridging online and offline commerce via mobile. Touting AdWords as “the largest online-to-offline ad measurement solution in the world” since the related store visits metrics were rolled out two years ago, advertisers have measured over 1 billion store visits globally.

Offering the Target store chain as an example of an advertising partner that “gets it,” Dischler noted that 98 percent of the department store’s consumers shop digitally. And three-quarters of them start their experiences on mobile devices.

“Target is a brand that understands that there’s no longer a dividing line between the physical world and the digital world,” Dischler said. “Using our store visits metric, Target has learned that one-in-every three people that click on a search ad, head into a store to shop.”

Google’s analytics are also making it easier for Map users to experience greater confidence and satisfaction about shopping at physical locations as well.

“One-in-four people who avoid stores say that it’s because they don’t know if an item is in stock,” Dischler said. “That’s why we’re bringing local inventory information to Business Pages within Google Maps, along with the ability to search for a specific item in store.”

Google’s Mobile Optimization Revamp

On top of that, marketers can also offer “buy online/pickup in-store” by adding a  pickup link to the Google-hosted local product page. This is the page that appears after a user clicks your local inventory ad. Kohl’s, a participant in Google’s Store Pick-up pilot program, claims a 40-to-50 percent increase in clicks from their Google local storefront to the department store brand’s site with this feature.

Among the other AdWords changes highlighted during Google’s Performance Summit: better looking ads that are designed to present fuller information on businesses’ physical locations.

“Mobile has revolutionized the canvas where ads live,” Google said in a statement. “Earlier this year, we removed right-hand side ads on desktop to improve the search experience and make it more consistent across devices. This paved the way for us to introduce the biggest changes to our text ads since AdWords launched fifteen years ago. Optimized for screen sizes of the most popular smartphones, new expanded text ads in AdWords provide more ad space so you can showcase more information about your products and services before the click.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.