I’m seeing more and more sponsored link icons on Google Maps these days.
Some searches that will trigger the icons are hotels, plumbers and Home Depot.
Google has experimented with a number of different ways to incorporate advertising on Maps:
- Blue markers to indicate sponsored links
- Logos and icons
- Sponsored links above the listing on the left side of the page
Experimentation is important – there are two types of local businesses: ones that you go to (restaurants, bars, hotels, car washes) and ones that come to you (plumbers, electricians, contractors). If they’re coming to me, I’m less concerned about where exactly they are on the map.
Businesses with sponsored links appear twice in the same location. The red marker is the organic result and the icon is the paid listing. Although this makes a lot of sense on a search results page where they appear on different parts of the page, it just adds clutter here. The sponsored and organic information should be clearly identifed, but it would be better to do that in the same bubble.