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Google Maps reportedly testing pop-ups that want you to visit sponsored locations [Update]

A graphical representation of Google Maps
by OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay

Update: Google confirmed to Neowin that it's not testing pop-up ads in Google Maps. The "add stop" user interface in question is an existing feature called Promoted Pins. Here's the statement from a Google spokesperson:

Promoted pins in navigation are not new - they let people see relevant ads for businesses like gas stations, restaurants, and stores along their route. To avoid driver distraction, these ads do not pop up, expand only if they’re tapped on, and disappear quickly after a short time.

However, Higman told Google Ads Liaison that he "did not tap anything" before the "pop-up" automatically appeared, adding that it did go away after a few seconds. The Liaison called the automatic appearance of the user interface "not expected behavior." So, it can't be ruled out that an unexpected bug might have worked behind the scenes.

Originally published article continues below:

Google Maps is a popular navigation app that's free to use. But like many other Google services, Maps too relies on advertisements to pay for its bread and butter. It is reported that the search giant is testing a new ad format that displays pop-ups during navigation, nudging users to take a detour to sponsored locations.

A Google Maps user, Anthony Higman, was the first to spot and post the new format on X (formerly Twitter), which gives "Cancel" and "Add Stop" options to add a sponsored location to the navigation route. According to Higman, a pop-up advertising a convenience store chain automatically came up while he was passing a gas station near Atlantic City.

Higman clarified that he didn't "Type Anything In About Gas Or Food Or Anything?" and said that the ad format "was super distracting."

Google has long used local business ads to lead users to call or visit sponsored locations. Ads on Google Maps can appear as highlighted places on the map or in the search results when users look for nearby businesses, such as when people search "coffee near me."

While the pop-up might be a rare appearance on Google Maps, the search giant has previously tested it on its other navigation app, Waze. It can't be said if Google has picked a limited number of users to test the waters or if the new ad format will reach more people in the coming days.

Via 9to5Google

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