Google is testing a new local business ad format called Enhanced Listings that allows the advertiser's presence to stand out on a map, or otherwise call attention to something that it wants to highlight, such as a sale or coupon.
The format went live in two test cities - San Jose, CA and Houston, Texas, writes Search Engine Land. There are any number of ways advertisers can enhance their presence on the map, according to Google. "For example, you can add a coupon for new customers, highlight a video overview of your store, or even link to your menu."
There is no impact on rankings using these ads, according to Search Engine Land, who spoke to Google about it. "It's another effort by Google to create a very simple advertising vehicle for local businesses. This is partly Google's idea and partly the result of grass roots feedback Google received from business owners."
Google has been experimenting with ad formats that use enhanced imagery and mapping technology and are aimed at local businesses.
Earlier this year it was awarded a patent on ad technology that inserts ads in its Street View mapping images. In the patent application, Google said it would identify buildings, posters, signs and billboards in its StreetView images - and then let advertisers replace these images with more up-to-date ads. Or a marquis or individual window of a particular building could be identified - and then replaced with an ad.
A theater, for example, could promote a current play in Street View, even if the actual image was months old.
Both Google and Bing have been building out the functionality in their respective mapping offers with augmented reality features and now, possibly, with ad linkages. Recently Microsoft rolled out a Bing Maps beta with enhanced imagery and 3-D functionality. Other features include the ability to overlay social media such as tweets on the maps.