Google Maps + Advertising = ?

November 29th, 2011

by Marcus Snyder

Consider this: When potential customers look up your business online and see your Google Maps listing, they’re hit with a promotional ad for your services. Genius, right? Well, maybe.

This hypothetical can easily become a reality as Google Adwords recently extended their reach to include their Google Maps service. It’s time to gather your marketing team because with the right approach, there’s a lot of potential here for your business. However, while you’re doing that, you might want to gather your public relations team, too.

So, what could possibly go wrong? The short answer is: everything.

While there is nothing stopping you from running an ad, there is also nothing stopping a competitor from doing the same. Since this service runs on their auction-based ad network, the best you can do is to set your ad placement for Google Maps, add the appropriate keywords and hope for the best. Strangely enough, all Google Maps listings are fair game – including memorials.

That said, if a competitor has a higher quality score, more relevance and a high bid, they’re going to appear in the ad spot under your listing. Imagine owning a small, local bookstore and having advertise on your listing – this is now possible. Worst of all, there doesn’t seem to be much that you can do about it (there is speculation that Google will allow you to pay them to remove unwanted ads, but nothing is in place yet). The first shots of reputation warfare are already echoing on the internet. compiled a series of screenshots showing the new ads in action, including a completely tasteless advertisement for a tour company on the 9/11 Memorial listing.

Overall, from the small and medium-sized business owner, this service feels like a huge miss. It seems that the real winners will be Google (who will get your Adwords dollars) and large businesses that have the resources to advertise on your business listings.

Filed under: Marketing, Online Reputation, Paid Search, PR | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »