More stealthy experimentation from Google with confirmation that hotel locations are being served on maps from within AdWords search results.
The search giant is testing a new feature where a user can check the whereabouts of a hotel by opening a quick drop-down menu from within paid-for keyword advertising.
Only available to a limited number, Google has added a message below search results in the top Sponsored Links box for some keyword searches.
The message invites users to view a map of hotel locations, presumably using a formula from the original keyword term.
In this case, search query "Premier Inn Devon" (referring to the large UK-based budget accommodation chain, Premier Inn) returns a generic text ad plus the drop-down menu.
Once the drop-down is activated, a map appears indicating the location of other Premier Inn properties in the immediate vicinity.
The new format remains within the existing shaded area and also includes a search box for users to narrow their search further as well as direct links to property pages and map directions.
Google has confirmed the test is taking place but only in countries where location extensions (a system to filter and target certain keyword searches) are available.
In some respects the move is an extension of its more widely publicised testing of hotel properties in Google Maps, revealed earlier this year, but this time putting the map within ad results rather than the opposite way round.
The test is also currently only available to a limited number of advertisers, presumably those with a chain of properties which can be included in a useful way on a map.
A Google official in the UK says:
"As part of our ongoing commitment to help users find the information they're looking for, we are currently running a test in which an expandable plusbox may appear within some ads on Google search results pages.
"The plusbox provides a map view and location-based information to help users find multiple store locations, and offers advertisers who are using location extensions a new way to engage potential customers."
Many of the search purists will note that the level of real estate Google is now giving over to paid-for advertising is almost completely overshadowing natural search results, especially in terms of screen size.
Presumably the test cannot be carried out on the right-hand Sponsored Links section due to constraints with the size of the map.
NB: Hat-tip PicturetheUK