It appears that Internet search provider Google is fooling around with mapvertising again, and is collaborating with bookseller Barnes and Noble, apparently, on the latest chapter of tests.
Internet marketer Shimon Sandler says hes noticed a new icon, in the shape of a coffee cup, on the maps accompanying results from Google Local, which is the Mountain View, Calif.-based companys local search and mapping feature.
Clicking on the coffee cup, Sandler wrote, triggers an ad for Barnes and Noble, complete with a logo, link, an address of a nearby outlet and a phone number.
Neither Google nor New York-based Barnes and Noble are saying what they are doing together.
But with this apparent test, and others Googles conducted in the last few months, its clear the search firm is experimenting with paid advertising listings on maps. Under this kind of an arrangement, an advertiser pays to have the companys Web site or ad more prominently displayed.
Paid listings are very lucrative, and accompany some of Googles features, but not Google Maps.
Taking into account the competitive nature of the Internet search market, its also likely Google competitors Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Time Warners AOL, and Microsofts MSN are also tinkering with different kinds of ads on maps.
The last time Google was heard from on the mapvertising issue, it was using blue balloons, not coffee mugs.
The icon switch-out could have happened because people confused the blue balloons, denoting paid listings, from the red ones, suggesting the usual sampling Google gathers.