In the past few days, Tim Capper has noticed ads in the local knowledge panels. I personally couldn't replicate, but now I can here and there. Greg Sterling confirmed with Google that this is a new "pilot program" that they are running again.
Yes, again they did this in 2017 and have switched it on and off since then. And now it's back.
Tim posted some examples of this on Twitter:
Here are other examples:
No, and it will be posted everywhere on pic.twitter.com/MnHZrJIDfK
– Tim Capper (@GuideTwit), July 1, 2020
The crazy thing is that a competitor can place ads in your knowledge panel. So if someone searches specifically for your brand name, a contending advertisement can be placed directly above your business address, opening hours and telephone number.
Tim said: "The company has NO knowledge that these are running!" He said with some of these ads it can cost the business dearly. He said, "The company has to pay 15% commission on the total amount of the order to the third party. The typical food surcharge is 35%. After paying the 15%, the company usually turns off the lights without taking on any other costs."
The restaurant will lose even more money if orders are placed for old menu prices, which they honor so as not to annoy customers.
Why don't they update the menu – why old prices and menu?
– Tim Capper (@GuideTwit), June 30, 2020
The company that knows nothing about it and then finds out can contact the ad provider or platform and ask for removal. We talked about it here.
So you can't tell Google not to show them in your Google My Business profile. You have to go to all third-party providers and ask them to remove it only when you see it appear. Will you see how it shows up? Probably not, since it is now a pilot program. But some of your customers may see it.
Forum discussion on Twitter.