Google launched a new mobile advertising product this week, allowing marketers to embed maps within expandable ad units, and to target those ads based on users' immediate location.
The addition to the search giant's AdWords platform essentially enables advertisers to feature their Google business listing and phone number within an expandable ad unit, which will appear across mobile sites and applications in Google's display network.
Upon expansion the ads pinpoint the business location on a map, along with a click-to-call phone number, and an option to request turn-by-turn directions. Advertisers are only charged when a user chooses to call the business or visit its website, but not when users expand the ad to view the map information or access directions.
Announcing the format in a blog post yesterday, Dai Pham, a member of Google's mobile ads marketing team, said the company believed providing mobile users with more calls to action and more options to connect with advertisers would help increase their interaction with the new format.
Because of the nature of the ads, they're likely to appeal mainly to local advertisers, or national advertisers with local presences such as retailers or restaurants, for example. Because the ads are baked into Google's AdWords product, marketers can, in theory, have ads up and running in a matter of minutes.
For targeting purposes, a Google spokesperson said, "The Expandable Maps format uses IP to show ads based on geographic location; if users opt-in to share more precise geographic information, with services such as Google's 'My Location', we may serve ads based on these signals on mobile devices."
Currently the formats will only appear on high-end mobile devices with full internet browsers, such as Apple's iPhone and devices running Google's own Android mobile operating system.
Google's VP of engineering, Vic Gundotra, initially demoed the ads at Google's developer conference in San Francisco in May. At the time, Gundotra had a dig at Apple's new iAd mobile ad formats, suggesting it wasn't flexible enough. "We're not working with just a handful of partners and charging a million dollars to be a part of that program," he said. "Advertisers have different needs: local, direct response, brand. If you want to play in [the advertising] game, you need formats to meet those needs," he added. According to Apple, its iAd network also has the capability to target users based on their location.
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.