Google is testing ads on Google My Business profiles for local businesses. A similar test was launched back in 2017 as well as last year.
Advertising appeared in restaurant profiles and few other categories, following some examples from the US market, as noticed by web analyst Tim Capper.
These ads are shown both on mobile and on desktop, and their peculiarity is that for now the opt-out is not possible. In fact, advertising cannot be removed or changed in any way by the business owner from the GMB dashboard, even though for now, third party ads seem to be related to the Google business listing. For example, the food ordering option promoted in the ad is for the restaurant itself, but it leads to a third party website, like Groupon. However, business owners might not like the redirecting from their business profile.
Google then announced that this is just a small test which involves very few industries and a limited number of advertisers, such as Groupon, Seamless and Caviar:
“This is currently a small pilot program. We are always working on new ways to improve the experience both for users and merchants.”
The most impacted category seems to be the restaurant one: the company announced that it was giving restaurants greater control over the delivery services associated with local profiles and the ability to identify a favourite delivery supplier. Additionally, Google declared that restaurants will soon be able to customize preferences for online orders on GMB. This option should already be active from the next few weeks in the US market.
Why are these tests interesting even though for now just limited to the US market?
Google has been trying for some time to monetize local searches. In April 2019, it launched a survey asking local businesses for information about potential new features and tools on Google My Business. One of the elements that was proposed was “removing ads from business profiles”, this is one of the advantages of having a Pro Yelp profile. Additionally to revenues from clicks, Google could try to integrate local business offers with paying options.
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