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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 McDonald’s might convince someone to stop to eat,” Google ads vice president 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, adding new features for advertisers such as letting them list special offers or a local product inventory search bar (so you can check whether 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.” Though Google says 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 free: It’s selling your eyeballs.
Dischler says that, for now, Promoted Pins won’t be personalized (meaning Google won’t use your location history to suggest certain businesses), and if you’re listening to navigational 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 is 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 has actually been Google’s pitch for a while, but now it is showing off proof of success: Since it introduced its “store visits” metric two years ago, advertisers have measured over 1 billion visits. (Google can tell whether an ad interaction is followed by a store visit if the user’s location history is 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, the senior vice president of ads and commerce, says. “There 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.