Google commercialises Maps with local promoted pins and searches

Google is turning to Google Maps as its latest source of ad revenue, trialling sponsored pins and searches.

Google: turning Maps into a money-spinner
Google: turning Maps into a money-spinner

The company has been conducting "small scale" experiments on promoted pins which would, for example, allow Starbucks to display a pin prominently to a nearby user looking at Google Maps, along with a promotional message.

According to Google, a third of all mobile searches relate to location.

Jerry Dischler, vice-president for product management at Google, told Campaign that Google could layer in other data to determine when to show a promoted pin to users.

"You could search for ‘lunch places nearby’, and we know that you like coffee after lunch," he said. "Or you’re browsing Maps and it happens to be a time you would want a coffee, so we might show it then."


Sponsored pins could even appear when a user is navigating to a location. Asked whether this might be distracting for those who use Google Maps while driving, Dischler said: "We hold a high bar for relevance and quality, so do not see it as a distraction. It’s an enhancement of the core user experience."

He added: "We’re still working it out and are confident we can come up with ways to do this so it’s relevant to users."

Another update is sponsored results on Google Maps. Google has quietly launched a new ad unit that displays alongside organic results within maps, which Dischler claims does not look overly intrusive.

"It looks very appropriate next to the organic unit, and displays within the finder results," he said.

Google will now also count Maps inventory as part of Google search ad inventory, meaning brands can advertise both on search and maps relatively easily.

Dischler did not comment on cost or when the new services might roll out more widely.

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