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What’s the Difference Between Local Service Ads and Google Ads?

Infographic for explaining the difference between Local Service and Google Ads

In today’s digital age, online advertising is an essential component of a successful marketing strategy. Whether you’re a small local business or a global corporation, reaching your target audience effectively can make all the difference. When it comes to online advertising, two prominent options come to mind: Local Service Ads and Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). While they both operate within the Google ecosystem and aim to connect businesses with potential customers, they serve distinct purposes and exhibit unique characteristics. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamental differences between Local Service Ads and Google Ads. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of when and how to leverage each advertising platform to achieve your marketing goals.

Understanding Local Service Ads

What Are Local Service Ads?

Local Service Ads (LSAs) are a specialized advertising platform designed to connect service-based businesses with local customers in need of their services. These ads primarily cater to professionals and businesses in industries such as plumbing, electrical services, HVAC, locksmiths, and more. LSAs are prominently displayed at the top of Google’s search results, making them highly visible to users seeking immediate service assistance.

Key Characteristics of Local Service Ads:

  1. Service-Oriented: LSAs are tailored for businesses that offer services rather than physical products. They are particularly effective for businesses that provide services within a specific geographic area.
  2. Google Guaranteed: To instill trust and confidence in potential customers, Google offers a “Google Guaranteed” badge to businesses that meet certain criteria, such as background checks and licensing verification.
  3. Pay-Per-Lead: Unlike traditional pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, LSAs operate on a pay-per-lead model. You are charged when a user contacts your business directly through the ad, such as by calling you or sending a message.
  4. Localized Targeting: LSAs focus on local targeting. Your ads are displayed to users within your service area, ensuring that you connect with customers who can avail of your services.
  5. Limited Ad Copy Control: LSAs offer limited control over ad copy. Google generates the ad content based on the information provided by your business and customer reviews.

When to Use Local Service Ads:

  • If your business provides services, especially in industries like home repair, maintenance, or professional services.
  • When you want to target local customers within your service area.
  • If you’re seeking to build trust with potential customers through the “Google Guaranteed” badge.
  • When you prefer a pay-per-lead model to pay for actual leads rather than clicks.

Understanding Google Ads

What Are Google Ads?
Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is a versatile online advertising platform that allows businesses to create and display ads across Google’s vast network, including the search engine, partner websites, and mobile apps. Google Ads encompasses a wide range of ad formats, targeting options, and bidding strategies, making it suitable for various businesses and marketing objectives.

Key Characteristics of Google Ads:

  1. Diverse Ad Formats: Google Ads offers an array of ad formats, including search ads (text and responsive), display ads, video ads (YouTube), shopping ads, and app promotion ads.
  2. Keyword Targeting: Advertisers bid on specific keywords related to their products or services. When users search for these keywords, relevant ads are displayed.
  3. Audience Targeting: Google Ads allows precise audience targeting based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and remarketing to previous website visitors.
  4. Budget Control: Advertisers have full control over their advertising budget, allowing them to set daily or campaign-level spending limits.
  5. Bidding Strategies: Google Ads offers various bidding strategies, such as manual CPC (Cost Per Click), automated bidding, and target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), to optimize ad performance.

When to Use Google Ads:

  • If your business offers a wide range of products or services and you want to reach a broader audience.
  • When you prefer a high degree of control over ad content, ad formats, and targeting options.
  • If you want to use advanced bidding strategies to optimize ad performance and achieve specific goals like maximizing conversions or return on investment (ROI).
  • When your advertising strategy includes a mix of search, display, video, and app promotion ads.

Key Differences Between Local Service Ads and Google Ads

Now that we’ve introduced both advertising platforms, let’s delve into the key differences that set them apart:

  1. Service vs. Product Focus:
    • Local Service Ads: Primarily focus on service-oriented businesses that provide localized services, such as home repairs, locksmith services, and professional consultations.
    • Google Ads: Suitable for businesses offering products, services, or a combination of both, with a broader range of ad formats.
  2. Ad Placement:
    • Local Service Ads: Appear at the very top of Google’s search results, often above traditional Google Ads. These ads are specifically designed for local service inquiries.
    • Google Ads: Can appear on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), partner websites, mobile apps, YouTube, and the Google Display Network, offering a more extensive reach.
  3. Billing Model:
    • Local Service Ads: Operate on a pay-per-lead model, where you are charged when a user directly contacts your business through the ad.
    • Google Ads: Typically use the traditional pay-per-click (PPC) model, where you pay when a user clicks on your ad, regardless of whether they make a purchase or inquiry.
  4. Ad Content Control:
    • Local Service Ads: Provide limited control over ad content. Google generates the ad copy and uses information from your business profile and customer reviews.
    • Google Ads: Offer full control over ad content, allowing you to craft customized ad copy, headlines, descriptions, and ad extensions.
  5. Targeting Scope:
    • Local Service Ads: Emphasize local targeting, displaying ads to users within your specified service area.
    • Google Ads: Offer a wide range of targeting options, including geographic targeting, demographic targeting, and audience segmentation based on user behavior and interests.
  6. Badge Verification:
    • Local Service Ads: Businesses that meet Google’s verification criteria receive a “Google Guaranteed” badge, adding an extra layer of trust for potential customers.
    • Google Ads: Do not provide a badge-based verification system. Trust is built through ad quality and reputation.
  7. Ad Format Variety:
    • Local Service Ads: Have a standardized format with minimal visual customization options.
    • Google Ads: Offer diverse ad formats, including text, display, video, shopping, and app promotion ads, with more extensive creative freedom.

Choosing Between Local Service Ads and Google Ads

The choice between Local Service Ads and Google Ads largely depends on your business type, advertising goals, and target audience. Here are some scenarios to help you decide:

Choose Local Service Ads If:

  1. You Provide Local Services: If your business offers localized services like plumbing, HVAC repair, or locksmith services, Local Service Ads are tailored to your needs.
  2. Trust Is Crucial: Building trust with potential customers is essential for your business. The “Google Guaranteed” badge can help instill confidence in your services.
  3. You Prefer Pay-Per-Lead: If you want to pay only when potential customers directly inquire about your services, the pay-per-lead model of Local Service Ads is appealing.

Choose Google Ads If:

  1. You Offer a Range of Products/Services: Google Ads is versatile and suits businesses with a wide array of offerings, including product-based businesses and service providers with diverse service offerings.
  2. You Seek Extensive Reach: If you want to reach a broader audience across various platforms and websites beyond Google’s search results, Google Ads provides a more extensive reach.
  3. You Require Full Ad Customization: Google Ads offers complete control over ad content, making it ideal for businesses that want to create highly customized ad campaigns.
  4. Advanced Targeting and Bidding: If you wish to use advanced targeting options, audience segmentation, and bidding strategies to optimize ad performance, Google Ads provides the flexibility to do so.


In the realm of online advertising, both Local Service Ads and Google Ads play vital roles in helping businesses connect with their target audiences. However, understanding the distinctions between these two advertising platforms is crucial for making informed decisions about where to allocate your advertising budget. Local Service Ads are specialized for service-oriented, local businesses seeking immediate customer inquiries, while Google Ads offer a broader range of ad formats and targeting options, making them suitable for diverse business types and marketing goals. To make the right choice, consider your business’s nature, goals, and budget, and whether you prioritize trust-building, extensive customization, or advanced advertising strategies. By selecting the appropriate platform, you can effectively harness the power of online advertising to reach and engage your desired audience. Are you ready to take your online advertising to the next level? Whether it’s through Local Service Ads, Google Ads, or a combination of both, strategic online advertising can drive growth and success for your business.

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