This is probably a post for the Adwords forum, but it does effect the local search world.
A newer twist on some existing functionality. When creating an new Adwords Ad, I now have 3 options:
Create New Ad: Text Ad ¦ Image Ad ¦ Local Business Ad
I thought this was interesting, as my campaign is national, not geo targeted. But definitely a useful option, regardless. If you do select "local business ad", this is the copy on the next page:
"Create an ad:
Local business ads are enhanced sponsored links for business listings in Google Local. They appear on Google Local in two parts: first, a highlighted ad in the results column; second, a map marker that expands to display your business's details. "
Then the business data appears - the name, address, etc. What is interesting is the next step, where Google is verifying your business address with what they have on file.
"The information you entered is similar to the following listings. Select your business: "
Once you select your business, then you can create the actual ad. It would be really easy for them to collect additional information at this point, but they don't. What about business hours, payment methods, fax, services...? A la' Yahoo local business listings?
Why not? If I had the chance to easily grab all that additional data I would make sure that it happened.
Anyhow, it's definitely a good sign for local search in general. Google is making it easier for everyday businesses to target locally.