Get a good look at Google Maps now, because it may soon start filling up with lots of company logos. In a blog post today, Google says it will start experimenting with showing logos for physical business locations on Google Maps, both in your desktop browser and on the mobile app.
These are what Google calls "promoted pins," or companies that paid to appear in your map. Logos could appear as you look at a map, or could show up in your driving route. For example, the logo for Walgreens might appear as you follow on-screen directions from your office to a meeting. The business page, which appears at the bottom of the screen when you tap on a logo, could display coupons for items at that store or let you browse the store’s inventory.
Likewise, search results in maps could start including more prominent ads for nearby businesses. This means that when you type something like "coffee shop near me" into your Google Maps app search bar, a business that paid for an ad could appear first in your search results list. This business would be identified as an ad using a small, purple box and the word "Ad," and its related location on the map would be marked with a purple box.
It seems natural for Google to offer advertisers a more prominent spot in Google Maps. Google is, after all, still a company that makes money by selling ads. And if you’re really hungry on a road trip and want to know whether the next exit has McDonald’s or Wendy’s before you pull off the highway, logos will be helpful. Only time will tell what this will mean for small businesses that can’t out-advertise the big guns.