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Google Testing Ads on Maps

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Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Google is testing yet another revenue stream – companies are now able to pay to have their brand logo appear on their location on Google Maps.

Last year Google Maps added icons and labels of prominent businesses and places of interest directly onto Google Maps in the form of a small icon and now they are trying to make money from that feature. The feature is now being tested in Australia, where Google has chosen to test other Maps ad types in the past.

From the Google post announcing this test:

Now when you visit Google Maps in Australia, it’ll be easier to find some of those shops and other businesses you visit most often because when you zoom in, some businesses will be identified by a small representation of their logo. These easily recognisable logos more closely depict online what the offline world looks like, so next time you’re trying to find your way on the map you can navigate more easily using these icons as landmarks.

Google has several initial sponsors including Bankwest, JB Hifi, LJ Hooker, NAB and Chemist Warehouse all of whom have their logos appearing on maps when users zoom in close.  This allows businesses to take advantage of the millions of dollars they have already sunk into branding - getting people to recognise their logos.  Advertisers will pay to have these sponsored map icons appear on the Map instead of a generic icon, helping to generate awareness of their locations among the millions of people who visit Google Maps every day.  This ensures that Google gets paid as the businesses sink even more money into putting that brand on the Google Map.

Though, like other aspects of Google search, paying is not always enough to get listed. Advertisers must be relevant to be listed and for Google to allow their logos to appear on its maps pages. Logos that don't get too much interaction and interest from the users will be removed. This will be important as you consider a place like a shopping mall which could have dozens of businesses willing to pay for their logo to appear.

Google's idea is to only have the places that people are actually looking for featured.  For example, an engineering office that gets few visitors would not be ideal to display.  One area that Google Maps will miss is government offices.  These office often get lots of traffic with people looking to get there, but the government agencies are not going to pay to have their department logos displayed.  As Google looks to balance users' interests with the commercial aspects it will be interesting to see if they offer places like government offices, and hospitals this type of placement as a community service.

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