Google has been distributing ads more widely on all of its properties of late. I noted a certain discomfort with their intrusive nature deep inside the bowels of the business listing details when it was roled out in mid February in Maps. At the Maps help forum a business owner asked (caps are his and I assume intended):
HOW OR WHY CAN ANOTHER BUSINESS ADVERTISE ON MY REVIEWS?
THERE ARE FIVE REVIEWS ON MY LISTING, ONE POOR ONE FROM SOMEONE WHO ADMITS TO NOT EVEN STAYING AT MY GUESTHOUSE AN ANOTHER ADVERTISING HER GUESTHOUSE. I CANNOT CONTACT ANYONE TO GET ANYTHING DONE ABOUT THIS, IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE OR ARE WE BEING RUN BY A COMPUTER NOW. I’M SCARED I THINK THEY HAVE LANDED.
Now the Google Geo Developers Blog has announced that they have changed the API to show ads along with searches for local businesses performed through the API:
“As many of you already know, developers can use the GoogleBar control in the Maps API to allow users to search the map for local businesses, landmarks and points of interest. As part of Google’s ongoing commitment to improve user and developer experience, we have some changes coming up for the humble GoogleBar. Most importantly, we are adding advertising targeted to the user’s searches. We hope that this, as with all Google advertising, will improve the user experience by providing targeted and relevant sponsored results. You will benefit from this as well, as you can make money from these Google ads provided on Maps API sites (see below).”
Clearly, Google runs a risk of alienating developers, users and businesses with their new strategy. But the feedback has been mixed with some posters noting that the ads bring additional relevance. I am not so sure.