http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/google-maps-will-feature-local-search-ads-businesses-171649

By Marty Swant

Expect to see more digital strangers along your physical routes: Local ads are coming to Google Maps.

Now that nearly one third of all mobile searches are related to location, Google is looking for more ways to connect marketers with users walking, biking, driving and otherwise commuting around any given city.

In a blog post published today, Google said it’s investing more in “branded, customized experiences” for businesses to help increase store visits.

Users will be able to tell the difference between a promoted location and an organic location by the color of the pin on the map and the word “ad” in the text at the bottom of the screen.

“For example, Maps users may start to see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops, gas stations or lunch spots along their driving route,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vp of ads and commerce, wrote in a blog post. “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 says its mobile ads across other products are already working. The search engine giant said AdWords store visits have generated more than 1 billion physical visits around the world since it was introduced in 2014. It cited Nissan UK, which found around six percent of ad clicks led to trips to a dealership that resulted in a return on investment that was 25 times higher than the cost.

Along with bringing ads to Maps, the company is also increasing the amount of copy on text ads across both desktop and mobile. The expanded text ads in AdWords will allow marketers to have more ad space to display information about products and services before a user clicks.