Google has switched on another search-related ad revenue source, this time on Google Maps.
Some searches, such as those for taxi, restaurant, or hotel, show a blue-background text ad along the bottom of the Google Maps page. Given that anyone at the site is using a map, this is an opportunity for Google to employ a strong geographic influence in its ad targeting algorithm, and in general, the better targeted an ad is, the more effective and costly it is.
The results vary according to what the user sees on the map; for example, searching for "notary Kansas City" shows no ad, but centering the map on Kansas City then searching for "notary" does. Likewise, "shoe store San Francisco" shows results but "shoe store" while looking at San Francisco doesn't. Presumably this behavior will change according to what keywords advertisers bid on.
It took me a minute to find the ads. They are really well blended and hidden at the bottom of the map. Doesn't seem like a good spot for them... since I couldn't find them when I was looking for them! ;-)
A couple of weeks earlier, Google Maps switched to a less expensive map data provider. Navteq, a US based company, used to provide map data for the product. The new source for maps is a European based Teleatlas. American and Canadian users of Google Maps noticed the (disappointing) difference immediately. This may drive heavy users of online maps away from Google to other alternatives which do use Navteq.
[edited by: tedster at 3:14 am (utc) on Oct. 10, 2008]