Google testing mobile feature that replaces nearby business results with local inventory ads

Google is stepping up its efforts to monetise search queries on mobile by replacing results of local business with ads.

The Alphabet company is currently running tests for local inventory ads (LIA) on mobile, which sees search queries yield relevant ads rather than locals business results which the company’s ‘local pack’ would usually offer up.

It's a similar feature which Argos tested early last year which allowed the retailer to ensure that its marketing spend isn’t used to promote products that aren’t available.

Now though Google is bring the feature to mobile for the first time. A search for “engagement rings Buffalo” within the Google mobile app shows a map with LIAs below where the local pack results would usually appear. Clicking on the ads takes users to the local inventory ad landing page hosted by Google.

However, on the iOS Safari browser the same search shows the regular local pack listings of three close by business. Apple’s decision to allow ad blockers to operate within its browser is likely the reason for the difference between the two.

The recent changes follow on from the introduction of promoted places ads in Maps last year, a move which was intended to capitalise on data which the company said showed local searches are growing 50% faster than overall mobile searches.