Your Google Maps Experience Is About To Look Real Different

FAIRFAX, CA - DECEMBER 13: The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on December 13, 2012 in Fairfax, California. Three months after Apple removed the popular Google Maps from its operating system to replace it with its own mapping software, a Google Maps app has been added to the iTunes store. Apple Maps were widely panned in tech reviews and among customers, the fallout resulting in the dismissal of the top executive in charge of Apple's mobile operating system. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The world as you know it is changing — or, at least the way it's displayed on Google Maps. The search giant Tuesday announced new advertisement offerings that will change the way you interact their mapping service. New "promoted pins" with company logos will pop up wherever the company thinks you might want to shop, eat, or fill the tank — meaning, more ads on Google's mobile services will be here soon.

Some of the changes will affect your desktop experience too, but the focus of Google's changes is on mobile, as explained in a company blog post Tuesday. Google is trying adjust as more search traffic moves from PCs to mobile devices. For the first time ever in 2016, mobile search and display ads are estimated to make up half of the company's revenue. Currently Google has about a third of the $10 billion market, with Facebook coming in a distant second. That's a lead the company will want to keep — and these changes, they hope, will attract more eyeballs and dollars by bridging "the digital and physical worlds."

Here's how it will work. The biggest changes are in the company's Google Map offerings. It comes standard on Android phones and is a popular download in the Apple App Store. Pins with logos for businesses will pop up if you're a regular customer or for some other reason Google's algorithms think you might be interested, Jerry Dischler, Google's vice president of product management for AdWords, told reporters gathered Tuesday. "A promoted pin for McDonald's might make them want to stop for a bite to eat," he said. Similar pins are already on offer in the Google-owned mapping app Waze.

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The business pages themselves will be updated too — that's what you see after you click on a business on the map. Companies can ad special offers if they so wish. And one big, useful change will allow users to search the store inventory. Say there are two Best Buys about the same distance from you. You can check which one has the headphones you want before driving over.

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These updates makes a lot of sense; Google says that about a third of searches have to do with location. "What we do see is this trend in which people are interacting with their mobile devices in this physical world at an increasing rate," Dischler said. "Our smartphones now play a critical role in guiding us through the world."

For the time being, the ads won't show up when the app is in the spoken navigation mode, although that's something that may happen in the future. Imagine, audio ads that say, "Turn left, unless you'd like a Starbucks. Then merge right." Eeks.

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Other changes announced Tuesday will result in larger mobile ads that show up next to search results on phones. There will now be two lines for the headline instead of one, plus there will be more room for body copy. Also, there's a new setup for display ads for publishers that use Google's service; they will look more like the articles and apps they show up in.

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