While doing a recent search for “enterprise car rental Hackensack, NJ” on my iPhone, I noticed some interesting results. The Enterprise location had a special map marker, the Enterprise logo and “Sponsored Link” denotation. This is the first time I’ve experienced a sponsored link in the Map application on the iPhone but it has greater mobile implications.
Google Maps Mobile has a version for almost every mobile platform including iPhoneOS, Palm’s WebOS, Google’s own Android OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile and almost any Java capable phone. This essentially means Google has advertising inroads on more than just the browser on these phones. The map application on a mobile device might be just as heavily used as browser on a mobile device especially considering Google’s recent opening up of turn-by-turn GPS data for Google Maps.
One potential issue of Sponsored Links in the Google Maps results (just as in the standard search) is the question of the integrity of search results. If there are too many sponsored ads, users may not care as long as they get what they are asking for but competitors may complain.
As shown in the image below, it seems that when you do a generic search for “car rental hackensack, nj”, the sponsored link doesn’t appear and the results seem more impartial.
Time will only tell though how the lines will be blurred between the returning of search results Google is getting paid for and what will remain organic. That being said, Path Interactive offers great SEM and SEO services to ensure that your company competes on both the organic and sponsored links of the Google Maps Mobile mix.