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I emailed Joy asking about this and she thought it would be a good discussion for the forum, which is how I heard about it and why I joined. Here's my question to her:
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Joy,

The majority of the time I see map ads I also see the same advertiser in the #1 or #2 ad spot.

I believe that Google is favoring the advertisers they make the most money from – the ones that have the highest bids and most relevant and get the most clicks.

Have you seen the same thing or do you have any other theories about how to get shown in the map ads more often?

Dan

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mapads.png
 

Eric Rohrback

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Top spot in the map is a local search ad.

I'm wondering whether this is a ad bid question or whether the other competitors that show in the map are aware they could buy ads specifically for the map pack.

Denver Orthodontist:
denver orthodontist screenshot.JPG


Pittsburgh Dentist:
pittsburgh dentist - screenshot.JPG



It's not necessarily the "highest bidder" since the company showing in the local pack isn't bidding the highest for the term in the normal ad pack. What I think is happening is that the other companies simply aren't bidding on Google Ads.

Great strategy for the companies using Google Ads. The CTR for Ads can be garbage when there is a map pack in the SERP because people trust the map more than ads. Injecting your ad to take two spots (or one if you're not in it) is a great strategy.

People might see the "Ad" notification, but may trust it because it's in the local pack.

Nice ad tactic for local businesses.
 
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It's not all the time, but most of the time that I see a local search ad in the map pack, their PPC ad is also in the top 3 ads above (verses bottom of the page) so I would assume that having a competitive bid strategy keeping your ads in higher positions 1-3 may increase the odds of getting the ad in the map pack. In both of your screenshots above this is happening.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Bid adjustments at a specific locality could help. I haven't tested it yet, but might be fun to play around with to see what we can trigger this scenario.

The "Refresh Dental" organization has no shot of showing up organically in the map pack for that query. Wexford is 20+ minutes north of the city. Their only shot is to use ads to show for that query and that location.

I wonder if they had a bid modifier on a specific area or if they were just bidding up on that keyword. Again, I'll have to play around with it for a few accounts.
 
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Had anyone seen the CTR on local search ads that appear in the local pack or has anyone like BrightLocal done a study on the % of clicks that go to those ads when present?

The closest thing i’ve seen is their click study here:


and the more detailed info graphic here: https://corp-brightlocal.imgix.net/2018/10/Proportion-of-Clicks-by-SERP-Result-FULL.png?auto=compress,format&ixlib=php-1.2.1&q=70&s=0dc99f9e85877a15acc0bb20d23274f2

Proportion-of-Clicks-by-SERP-Result-FULL.png.jpg
 
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