Google Maps, perhaps in an effort to promote a new style of demarcation, is allowing qualifying businesses to advertise for free until September of this year. While this decision–contrary to what it may look like–doesn’t stem from a desire to stimulate the economy during a pandemic, it raises some interesting applications going forward.
The actual rationale behind Google Maps’ decision to halt ad fees until September stems from the tech company’s introduction of smart pins to Google Maps, so while the free advertising period seems timely, it’s reasonable to assume that the end goal is a more widely implemented usage of this feature by the end of the year.
The feature itself–pins that address services and location-based options such as delivery or curbside service–stands to help promote businesses’ specific attributes in order to help delineate between competing services. From a purely accessibility standpoint, promoted pins are great thinking; imagine your last road trip with this level of available and easy-to-find information.
From an advertising perspective, providing as much information as possible via quasi-tags while avoiding overcrowding your interface is a huge boon in favor of businesses who use these pins.
It’s worth noting that the change and resulting ad forgiveness seems directed toward smart campaign users, which may affect one’s ability to access the promoted pins if their account or campaign isn’t set up using Google’s specified parameters.
Google also said that, starting July 1st, small- and medium-sized businesses who qualify for ad credits will have those credits applied to the appropriate accounts with no future action needed. While this is a separate initiative, it seems like a more relevant piece of information for anyone who doesn’t fall into the “smart campaign” category while seeking aid during the COVID-19 crisis. If you fit Google’s criteria for a credit, look for that in the coming months.
Pushing out information that can ensure the safety and accessibility of the people accessing one’s business is the logical next step for Google Maps, and it’s reasonable to assume other location-based services will begin to follow suit. Apple Maps, for example, has a similarly expanded version of the bare-bones one finds when searching for a site.
As businesses find ways to promote in a post-pandemic world, we’ll most likely see more innovation in this regard.