Google Maps on a phone that is attached to a car dashboard.

UPDATE: July 8, 2024, 6:33 p.m. EST

In a statement to Mashable, a Google spokesperson says that this so-called “experimental feature” isn’t new:

“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.”


Original article: July 8, 2024, 5:24 p.m. EST:

Is Google Maps is testing a new feature that may drive — no pun intended — you up a wall? Anthony Higman, a Google Maps user, posted on X about it, pointing out that he spotted a “never-before-seen” pop-up ad while driving with the navigation app near Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Yo Check Out This Wild New Ad Format On The Google Maps App,” Higman wrote. “I Put In Directions Down The Shore And Then When I Passed This Gas Station This Royal Farms Ad Popped Up With ‘Add Stop.'”

Higman added that he didn’t input anything regarding gas or food into the app. “Anyone Know What Kind OF Ad Format This Is?!?!?!” he asked.

Google Maps experimenting with new pop-up ads?

It appears that Google Maps is testing a new feature that, without being prompted, launches a sponsored pop-up ad for a nearby business with the buttons “Cancel” and “Add Stop.”

Calling it “aggressive,” 9to5Google pointed out that this is an ad format that Google has used for its Waze app. Of course, Google Maps is no stranger to sponsored content. For example, per Neowin, Google highlights sponsored businesses on maps and search results, particularly when people search for adjacent locations (e.g., “pizza near me”).

According to AndroidPolice, this so-called “intrusive” ad may be based on a recent memo Google sent to advertisers that says, in part, “We’re launching ads on Google Maps to help advertisers like you get more leads. The current launch is limited to the iOS version of the Google Maps mobile app.”

However, when Mashable reached out to Google for comment, a spokesperson told us the following:

“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.”

In other words, this isn’t a new practice. You probably have seen these ads already, and if you haven’t, it’s only a matter of time.

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