While this is no surprise, I noticed something that I haven't seen anyone else talk about. I was wondering how their "select 3" and receive a quote feature was going to work if someone just sees the phone number on page 1 of search results. Searched the phone number and business name, low and behold they are not connected. So looks like calls will be tracked and charged as well.
that is a great catch. The numbers are redirect phone numbers. Obviously google controls them. They are not the numbers that go directly to the business.
Sort of "unbelievable" when one thinks of the long history of "LOCAL" and accurate NAP. In any other environment this would crush NAP for high rankings.
But in these cases NAP and local really don't matter. Only the tiny 1% or less who search off maps.google.com will ever see local. In this scenario, NAP and local are "dead".
I also wonder if this presentation denigrates and/or makes getting reviews less important. Of vendors listed, some have existing Google reviews and some don't. Underneath the paid listings there are various urls and links to yelp, to other review sites and other mechanisms where in stars and reviews are being seen.
If Yelp is the most visible its also the one that is often hardest to "manage" if only because so many reviews, especially from first time and/or relatively inactive yelpers often get filtered out of view.
This is a complete pay for play dominated set of results. Very tough environment if a business thrived in search.