Google Turns On Text Ads In Google Maps

With Google’s stock down $100 in the past two weeks, the company all of a sudden isn’t so shy about pulling every advertising lever it can reach. So far this week, we’ve seen new click-to-buy buttons on YouTube (YouTubevertorials), AdSense for Flash games, and now text ads are appearing at the bottom of Google Maps. This may be bucket testing, but when I enter “New York City hotels” on Google Maps, I get a single line below with text ads for the Crowne Plaze Times Square and the Ramada New York. (An arrow lets you cycle through the ads).

Other bloggers around the world have noticed the same thing, including Amit Agarwal in India and David Shaw in the UK. The ads are local business ads, but seem to be triggered by the search terms.

What’s disappointing about these ads is that instead of taking you to a pushpin on the map itself showing you the location of the business doing the advertising, it takes you to the Website of that business like a normal search ad. But this is more about Google turning on a gusher of ad inventory that it was ignoring before than about creating an elegant map-based advertising experience. According to comScore, 131 million unique visitors worldwide checked out Google Maps in August. They generated 1.3 billion pageviews. That’s a lot of untapped ad inventory.

Where will we see Google place ads next?