Not only did Google expand the product listing ads in the local panel yesterday but they are also testing displaying a new ad format to promote deals in the local panel.
Pete Meyers posted on Twitter an example of an ad in the local panel that says “Save up to 51%…” and it goes on to list the deal amount and links to groupon to “view deal.”
Here is a screen shot from Pete:

Google sent Search Engine Land a statement:

“We’re currently experimenting with new ways to surface helpful and relevant local information to users on Google Maps and Search,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land when asked about the ad placement. “Maintaining a good experience for our users is our top priority and based on feedback, we’ll determine whether to roll these changes out permanently and broadly.”

Google has tested many types of ads in the local panel in the past, this is just one more flavor.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

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