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A few weeks ago at SES, Google told me they were going to be allowing advertisers to add logos and graphical images to the mapping balloons that appear on Google Local. I looked for them but couldn’t find them. Today, apparently, they started appearing. This blog has a screenshot. I was unable to find this ad (or other similar ads) on my own.

My understanding is that this doesn’t cost anything beyond the keyword bid; it’s a kind of a perk to marketers. (It’s also an enticement to advertise.) Yahoo! has been doing a version of this for a long time, although the branding is not presented the same way.

This is really just the beginning. AdMission Corp. has a directories module (like a mapping balloon) that can host photos, chat, e-commerce, e-mail forms, even video. I would expect to see all those options and PPCall or click-to-call functionality integrated into these mapping balloons over time.

Just wait.

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  1. As you often note, Google’s almost daily introduction of features, services, applications…keeps things interesting. Unfortunately for Google, and fortunately for everyone else, its search dominance is not easily duplicated via other initiatives: according to BusinessWeek online, "Google’s Print Auction Fizzles. The search giant’s auction of magazine ad space didn’t generate much enthusiasm — or business, in the case of one successful bidder. Google’s effort to roll its advertising juggernaut beyond digital and into the world of print publications is struggling…"

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