How to Thwart Competition in Google’s New Ad Format
The ability to populate ads on your competitor’s business profiles has been a longtime ad campaign option for Yelp campaigns.
An example: Yelp user searches for tax services near them. They click on the H&R Block profile, and then while viewing that business profile, they also see ads for competitors to the business in their local area:
Google Testing New Ad Format
Now it looks like Google is testing this same format as an option in Google My Business. According to Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land, agencies and businesses can’t prevent this from occurring on their profile:
Businesses Lack Strategic Autonomy in Current Google Environment
If this test format is anything like the current ads that populate Google local map listings, its lack of direct control would be consistent with Google’s latest approach.
Currently when running Google Ads campaigns, your local ads can show up in either the snack pack or the expanded map listings results. Those ads cannot be optimized directly any differently than ads showing up in the general search results. You just need local ad extensions active to have your ads display in the local results.
Unfortunately, since you can’t break out your bidding strategies for maps as a channel, you can’t be more or less aggressive in your management strategies to ensure ads do or do not appear here.
Is This Ad Format Here to Stay?
What remains to be seen is whether this new Google My Business ad format will stick and expand, and whether Google will allow owners to pay to remove or prevent competitors’ ads from showing on their business profiles.
Yelp does have the option to expand your ad campaigns to include the removal of competitor ads, as seen here in this Fitness Together example:
How to Compete in New Google My Business Environment
I think it’s unlikely that Google will offer such an option, so it’s important to continue to build local listings management strategies that make your business listings more compelling than your competitors.
Your strategies should include engaging in Q&A, frequently updating photos and listings content, and monitoring and responding to reviews and posts (posting is still not available in bulk for franchise or multi-unit systems).
Should this new ad format go mainstream, you can set yourself apart with a balanced approach to national and local Google Ads campaigns along with a comprehensive Google My Business management plan.
This ad format is going to be controversial because in many ways, Google My Business profiles have become more important than a local website. That means it’s time to lock in all of your Google strategies.