Google is in the beta testing stages of what they are calling “sponsored map icons” which will appear on Google Maps. These icons will show specific brand icons on the maps instead of just the generic ones and as of right now this new feature is starting with HSBC, Target, Bank of America, and Public Storage.
After beginning to test this feature back in March on the Australian version of Google Maps (as reported by Search Engine Land), American advertisers caught wind the company decided to begin testing here in the U.S. Google hopes that these new icons will help users more easily locate exactly which brands they are looking for, eliminating some of the hassle of search engine navigation.
Even though the sponsored icons are only available to the more popular brands, Google says that it isn’t necessarily the size of the company the affects the search engine’s decision to feature it.; consumers’ awareness of the brand and its accessibility factor will play key roles in the decision-making process. Companies with a sponsored icon will be charged on a cost-per-impression model and will only pay Google if and when their icon is viewed by users. Advertisers will have no influence on when their logo comes up.
Google expects this new feature to appear on the iPhone version of Maps and is also launching on the mobile version, including Android.