Google Maps Reflects Our Painful Reality- Ads EVERYWHERE

As the jokes were flying about how distasteful Google’s new Map’s info ad venue was, I became curious as to exactly how unseemly it really was. So I looked.

As Glen Gabe pointed out it may very well be necessary for SMB’s to take out ads defensively. Greg Sterling suggested that Google think about a Pandora like subscription so you could search ad free. For me, Google’s ads on the Map info bubble reminds me of ads on “park benches” that sit amid the fumes on street corners.

Here is a slide show that I assembled in 5 minutes to explore the possibilities. Bing is advertising on Zuccotti Park, Bank of America of course advertising on themselves, Chase is advertising on the Lexington Ave  women’s shelter and CPRProfessor advertising on the American Red Cross…. wow. You can click to see a slide show of some of these ads:

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Google Maps Reflects Our Painful Reality- Ads EVERYWHERE by

11 thoughts on “Google Maps Reflects Our Painful Reality- Ads EVERYWHERE”

  1. Mike this is exactly what I have been referring to over the years. With Google being a publicly traded company their management MUST seek growth, since they are a growth company, at all costs. The problem is that they are killing the user experience in the process. Google was built based upon one simple principle = their search results are the best. By muddying the waters with all of the ads it is suddenly much more difficult for the user to weed through the ads and find the relevant results; this is more true with the places ads versus standard Adwords.

    In another example of the muddying of waters… we have experienced this new “ads problem” within embeded maps on client websites. One of our clients, in particular, is a chain of mattress stores with multiple locations. The embedded map we placed on their contact us page was originally based upon an exact match search for their business name and for months only displayed their locations. All of a sudden this map displays their location + neighboring competitors + local ads. It is now useless for our desired purpose.

    When Google starts making their various tools useless, or less useful, there will be an erosion of their market and opportunities for competitors.

    In other news the Google+ experiment is reportedly hitting serious snags with repeat visits down and WOM growth non-existent. Guess that dung didn’t stick to the wall either. Time for Google to reload and fire again.

  2. Hi Mike,
    I find your post title to be very telling. Google Maps is supposed to mirror civic life…and it is quite true that our lives are bombarded with advertising everywhere we go. So, as far as that goes, ‘ads everywhere’ is true enough to real life. But what is the threshold at which there is so much noise, the ads get tuned out? Google has a fine line to walk.

  3. Remember the “good ‘ol days” of cable TV – when there weren’t supposed to be any commercials because the subscription you paid to the cable company was supposed to be enough money for them?

    The other thing to keep in mind – Google is currently the largest advertising platform on the Internet – so ads are somewhat expected, no?

    @MiriamEllis – To your point about the fine line – when I’m searching, the slight shading of the ads allows me to focus only on the white space, and I hardly see the PPC ads. It has been this way for me for as long as I can remember. I don’t count those ads as relevant to my searches in almost 100% of the searches I do. It’s almost like I’m going to have to spend money if I click on them – something that I’m not usually interested in for most of my searches – and, not the fact that I’m going to cost someone else money because I clicked on them.

  4. @Mark

    A simple MyMaps implementation of the client Map should work and as far as I can tell will not show any ads.

    @Miriam
    RE the question of how far is too far? Well as Steve Jobs used to say: You’ll know it when you see it… and I am seeing it.

    @Edw
    Besides the usability and visual clutter issues, Google, in adding these EVERYWHERE, is managing to debase the very thing that they stand for…It is much easier to ignore ads that occur amidst the clutter of the search results… these slap you in the face.

  5. It’s going to start getting like product placement on TV! Talk about shameless!

    Like EdW, I dont click the sponsored links in the shading or the Boost/Adwords blue balloons, I hardly even notice them any more because my eye automatically discards the top couple of results.

    Will the next thing be the total removal of the light shading? I wonder what effect that will have on what would have been position 1 in the SERPs? Maybe in a few months we will all be aiming for position 10 of the organics to get the most click thrus!

    Re G+, people in my social media managers group are already getting paid to set up client pages. Im holding back for the moment. I guess there will be SEO opportunities just as with the domain authority of a Facebook page but in terms of generating new customers…?

    Here in the UK, FB is a difficult enough proposition for small local businesses because they’re just pushing the paid ads and sponsored stories, I just don’t see the level of interest in G+ here to merit charging my clients for setting up a business page.

    It’s all gone AllAboutTheMoney dot com!

  6. @EdW – agree, I’ve developed the same ad blindness after all these years using Google as my main search engine. I wonder how this works for people from whom the web is not the location of their job. For those who spend less time looking at SERPs, Adsense may be more of a lure. I think the only time I look at ads is when I absolutely cannot find what I’m looking for in organic. Something clicks in my brain and I think, “Well, what do these ads say?”.

  7. One of the problems in discussing SEO amongst people who deal with it day in and day out is that we all become jaded.

    it is very interesting to watch someone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of SEO and just wants to look something up on say….Google.

    Case in point, my wife who holds a degree in accounting. She came into my home office one day when I had Google up on the screen and the results from a search using a couple of the key words we target. While I was interested in out organic placement her eyes went right to the top of the page and noticed we were first and foremost (of the the paid ads). Here comment was simple (I kid you not), “Wow you are on the top of the page, congratulations you must have the best website”

    So while many in the know have animosity towards the paid ads and out of principle will not click on them, I suspect that many consumers are like my wife.

  8. @Mike what did you mean by using mymap? little more green here… it does seem they are trying to muddy the water between organic and paid.

  9. @mr37212
    Mark was having problems with a Google Map that he had embedded in his website because it included ads. If he were to recreate the map in Google MyMaps and then embed it, that would not be the case.

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