In the previous post, where I stumbled on to ads on a Google Map on Merchant Circle, “Mappin'” Mike Blumenthal took me to the local search woodshed with the following comment:
In mid March, Google announced that they have changed the API to allow the hosting site show ads along with searches for local businesses performed through the API.
I think that is what you are seeing at MC.
Now I am no investigative journalist, but I can’t take one in the face on my own digital front porch and not try to wipe the egg off, so I pinged Merchant Circle to see what they had to say and they confirmed that in fact this is some kind of trial that MC is doing with Google. They are using a non-public API that is different than the GoogleBar API. Here is another example of a site that apparently is also in the trial: