Rumblings of Google placing ads in the Local Pack were first announced in June and already they have made a recorded appearance in UK SERPs.
Google monetising a previously organic-only element isn't unusual (remember when Google Shopping listings were free?) but what is unusual is how quickly this landed in the UK: we're normally several months behind the curve with receiving significant AdWords updates from across the Atlantic (again, Shopping took nearly a year to migrate to a paid version in the UK).
Organic traffic is likely to lose visibility on searches with local intent, and this largely compounds February's AdWords update that pushed more ads into the top of the page and reduced organic's top of page impression share. That's fairly obvious and not particularly insightful - my apologies.
What may prove decisive for advertisers who take advantage of this update is the ability to double their exposure in the Local Pack: the example screenshot in the below link shows both a paid and organic listing within Local Pack.
Previous Google studies into click incrementality (biased as they may be and old as the study may be) suggest that there could be up to an 89% gain in traffic that wouldn't exist without an advert in situ.
Time to polish up those Google My Business listings!
At the SMX Advanced Local Workshop in June, Google confirmed that ads would be appearing in the Local Pack. At the time it wasn’t clear when this would roll out or whether the ad would replace one of the listings or become a fourth position in the Pack. However, yesterday Ryan Scollon spotted a Local Pack with three organic listings and one ad at the top in a UK mobile search.