For a more detailed analysis of this change see: Grey Pinned Results Now Live
Since Nyagoslav of Optilocal first spotted the grey pinned local results a week ago, there have been a number of other sitings of the change in the wild. There is still a fair bit of variability in the layout and arrangement indicating that Google has not yet picked a final design and they are still testing. The widespread sitings would tend to argue that ultimately the change to grey is likely.
Here are screen shots from Optilocal, LocalBusinessRockstar and LocalvisibilitySystem that capture some of the variety still presenting. Besides the grey pin, you will note that on some screen shots the pin has moved to the right. Most significant to me was the change of the Branded One Box. In moving the images to the right, Google is reducing the space given to a brand at the top of the page. We still need to see this result with SiteLinks to ascertain the full impact.
The potential change to grey is interesting. We know from eye tracking studies of local results, and intuitively understand, that the Red pins are very compelling to the searcher and attract their focus. We also know that Google has stated at the Senate hearings that the local results actually decrease Google income by some percentage.
Google has invested significant marketing resources into the Red pin with a bevy of marketing campaigns. As a result, the pin has become an incredible icon for the brand, achieving worldwide recognition as a symbol of Google’s local search capability. When you see the Red Pin you think Google Maps.
It strikes me as odd that Google would mess with that strong branding of the image but it is possible that a change to grey in the main search results is an attempt to amerliorate the negative impact that local search has had on ad income.
Your thoughts? Is the change coming? Why would Google fool with the Red Pin?
Update: Wissam Dandan of LEBSEO Design has put together this video. Note that the grey pins turn red when you mouse over them:
Here are the original postings & summaries of the grey pin discoveries :
For a more detailed analysis of this change see: Grey Pinned Results Now LiveIs Grey the New Red for Google Places? by Mike Blumenthal