All the way back in March 2016 Google announced promoted pins would be making their way to Google Maps. We reported the news right away but there’s been a long wait to see these things in action. However, Google is ramping up its testing efforts to test promoted pins with a select few retailers, suggesting we could see the feature go live in the near future.
The tests involve Starbucks, Walgreens and cosmetics firm MAC while the test only appears to be running in Google Maps on Android devices. Here’s what things are looking like so far.
Google testing promoted pins
Google decided the holiday season was the perfect time to put promoted pins through their paces. Only certain users will have seen the pins crop up in Google Maps but the key point is users don’t actually need to search for these brands – they simply show up as people are using Google Maps.
The pins display a brand logo and once users click on the icon, they’ll be presented with special offers and announcements designed to encourage foot traffic coming into their stores. As you would expect, people can also access your business page, get directions and check your opening times as per normal on Google Maps.
The key difference is these pins are more noticeable and users don’t need to search for your brand.
How useful will promoted pins really be?
It’s too early to get any kind of numbers on how well these promoted pins are performing. It will also be a challenge attributing metrics in all cases – something Google will need to address. The first number we want to see is a kind of click-through rate vs impressions but how Google measures an impression when pins are always displaying isn’t clear at this stage.
Next Google will need to attribute conversions from these clicks. This will be fine for conversions that take place inside Google Maps – eg: hotel bookings or calls to the business. However, it will be more of a challenge when an in-store visit is the conversion that follows, for example. Tracking mobile users by location is the obvious answer but there are no guarantees people will make the initial search on mobile and the implementation proposes a few challenges.
Finally, it will be interesting to see what kind of clicks promoted pins get for different user intents. Someone looking for a café in the area are going to see any number of Starbucks locations anyway. Meanwhile, a user searching for hotels in New York probably isn’t interested in a Hazelnut Latte right now.
While it’s good to finally hear about some progress being made with promoted pins, we’re still waiting for a number of questions to be answered. Sadly, there’s no knowing how long they’ll still be in the testing stages and the fact it’s taking so long could indicate there have been some teething problems.
Either way, we’ll be quick to report any news from Google regarding promoted pins and the results it gets from tests. So keep checking in with us for all the latest news on AdWords and digital marketing info.
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