Google Location-Based Ad Screwup: 'Sponsored' JCPenney DOES NOT EXIST

Update: Google appears to have removed this sponsored link from its map.

Earlier: Just as we were praising Google for testing a location-based mobile advertising product on the iPhone Maps app, we got a whiff of common sense — and found a huge mistake.

The “Sponsored” JCPenney listed on our iPhone’s Maps app at 241 E. 10th Street (Apt. #6) in New York DOES NOT EXIST. It is an apartment building with a cafĂ© on the ground floor. (See Google Street View capture below.)

How did it get here? That’s an excellent question that Google should be trying to figure out.

JCPenney’s Web site lists a “catalogue centre Inside” some sort of “JCP catalogue Merchant” at 200 E 10th St, which is another apartment building with small businesses on the ground floor. But nothing at 241 E. 10th Street. The nearest JCPenney is more than two dozen blocks away at 32nd Street and 6th Avenue.

So, before we try anything new, one big challenge for location-based mobile advertising: It has to work. A few seconds of time wasted searching on the Internet is no big deal. But sending someone walking or driving to a place that doesn’t exist could be a huge disaster and reputation-destroyer.

So we’d encourage Google to take a fast, hard look at whatever glitch this is, fix it immediately, and make sure it never happens again.

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