Google Maps is About to get a Little Too Personal

You’ve probably noticed how it seems like almost every app on your phone is very focused on ads. Ads are on social media, games, and even on apps like flashlight or calculator. Basically you can’t do anything on your phone without an advertisement being shoved in your face. Well, Google noticed this too, and they finally decided to jump on the bandwagon. Now they’re experimenting with implementing a new kind of ad in their popular Maps app. Their app has always had subtle ads at the bottom, but now they want to make it more personal for us.

The idea is that while you’re using Google Maps as your navigation, there will be ads or what they’re calling, “promoted pins” to let you know about businesses that are nearby. Think of it as a smarter, personalized GPS. It is pretty cool in theory – you can get to know about certain businesses that exist on your route that you might not know about otherwise.

It kind of seems like Google is a little late with this idea. Maybe Google wants to be more fun like Waze, the navigation app that they bought for $1.1 billion back in 2013. But up until now they’ve kept the apps separate and totally different. Google Maps has been used solely for navigational purposes, as there isn’t much else you can do on it. Whereas Waze adds a more fun social media aspect by allowing users to send live traffic information, and it learns about your frequent destinations, when you typically drive, your preferred routes, and has something similar to the Google Maps promoted pins. So if you were using Google Maps in order to escape the ads, it looks like soon you’ll be out of luck.

Regardless of why Google finally decided to do this, the promoted pins they are experimenting with get a little creepy and too personal. The ads are going to be based off information that Google has collected about you based on your searches and interactions with other Google apps. So for example, if Google has seen you Googling tacos, it might promote a pin with a coupon for Mexican restaurant that’s on your way to wherever you’re going. Or maybe Google “noticed” you’re are a coffee addict –it will let you know about a coffee shop on your route. Basically, Google is reinventing the billboard, and this time it is virtual. They want you to feel like you have a personal assistant that’s helping you out and totally not just an obnoxious advertisement. According to the Associated Press, Jerry Dischler, a Google product manager in charge of the promoted pins, Google’s goal is to “provide tasteful commercial experiences.”

As consumers, we may hate ads, but with over 1 billion users, you have to admit it is pretty smart for Google to be experimenting with these kinds of ads. And we have to remember – they’re only experimenting. So we might not have to deal with it yet. That is unless you were one of the few random people that have been selected to test out how it is going to work out and how the ads are received by drivers.

Unfortunately, if you were chosen as one of the people to see the promoted pins, you won’t be able to turn it off. According to Jerry Dischler, the company is not planning on allowing users to turn off the promoted pins.

Were you one of the people selected to see the promoted pins? Even if you weren’t, let us know in the comments below what you think about these virtual billboards in Google Maps.



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