Road trip time!
You plug your destination into Google Maps and start cruising down your route when a purple pin appears, showing you the location of the nearest McDonald’s and offering a few dollars off on a combo meal if you stop.
“Add to your route,” it prompts. Well, you were getting hungry…
This is the new ad experience that Google is testing out in its Maps app to help businesses entice you into visiting their coffee shop, gas station, pharmacy, whatever.
“A Promoted Pin for McDonalds might convince someone to stop to eat,” Google ads VP Jerry Dischler explains.
The company has had some form of advertising in Maps since 2010 but it’s now building out its Promoted Pins to be much more prominent, and adding new features for advertisers, like letting them list special offers or a local product inventory search bar (so you can check if the Walgreens down the street has the right kind of contact solution before you actually go there).
You’ll also see more Promoted Pins when you make a search like “coffee shops near me.” Although Google says that its biggest priority is making sure the ads are useful and unobtrusive, they will be a good little reminder for users about why Google offers nearly all of its services for free: It’s selling your eyeballs.
Dischler says that, for now, on-route Promoted Pins won’t be personalised and if you’re listening to voice directions from your phone, the advertisements won’t come on the audio.
Google is due to announce this next generation Maps ad at its annual Performance Summit on Tuesday. Google’s big pitch to advertisers is that it’s the best partner for the “mobile-first” world because its combination of search and maps data can show when its ads actually drive people into stores.
That’s actually been Google’s pitch for a while, but now it’s showing off proof of success: Since it introduced its “store visits” metric two years ago, advertisers have measured over 1 billion visits. (Google knows when people who’ve interacted with an ad actually followed up with a store visit provided they have their location history turned on — learn how to turn it on or off here).
Here’s what the new ads in Google Maps will look like:
“Mobile has been something that was going to happen or was happening, and this is the year that mobile has firmly happened,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads and commerce, says. “There are are trillions of searches on Google every year and over half of those searches happen on mobile.”
You can read about the other ad updates Google is making here.
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