Google Maps could start showing ads and its bound to get messy

JC Torres - Apr 10, 2019, 11:54 pm CDT
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Google Maps could start showing ads and its bound to get messy

“Google” is now also a verb because of how search has become so ingrained in our modern lives. There is, however, one other Google product that has subtly cemented its role in our lives. Google Maps has changed the way we travel and navigate partly because it made what was once a paid subscription feature available for all and for free. The latter isn’t going to change but Google may soon be looking for ways to profit from its lead by, what else, placing ads in Google Maps.

No, you’re not about to see ads pop up left and right in Map views, or at least we hope not. That is going to make using Google Maps not only annoying but even dangerous and we hope Google has more sense than that. Instead, Google will do what it does best and place those ads in search results.

Given Maps’ thousands if not millions of users, it is ripe for the picking for sponsored content and search results. You, know, the same ones you see in Google Search even before you could see the results you actually searched for. Some people do search directly in Maps rather than via Google Search so it might make sense to put those sponsored suggestions there.

Google isn’t shy about wanting indeed monetize a product they’ve been offering for free for more than a decade now. But they’re also being careful on how to proceed. Any disruptive change, especially when it comes to ads, could spark a riot. Then again, it practically has a monopoly on the maps market.

And that is the other thing it has to be wary of. Google is already facing investigations and fines, especially in Europe, over anti-competitive practices in areas where it is virtually unchallenged. Placing sponsored content in Maps search results could open up yet another can of legal worms.


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