Ads will soon appear on maps that accompany Googles local search feature, the Internet search leader announced March 30.
The announcement is a sign that Google continues to hunt for new revenue sources.
The new ads start out as graphics, shaped like shopping bags, grocery carts, film reels or coffee cups, that appear on the map at the advertisers location.
Clicking on the graphics reveals additional information, such as the advertisers street address, Web site and phone number.
For now, the ads will only appear on Google Local, an Internet search feature that uses maps to show the location of businesses listed in the results.
But Dominic Preuss, product manager for Google, in Mountain View, Calif., signaled that its likely that the Google Local ads are just the beginning, and the practice could spread to other Google features using maps.
“Our first plan is to put ads directly on Google Local maps,” he said. “This does have broader implications, but were waiting for a few months of feedback on this first.”
The new Google ad initiative is in line with the companys goal of capturing even more Internet advertising spending, while simultaneously bracing itself for an inevitable slowdown in the growth of that spending.
In addition to beefing up its ad programs, as it is doing with this initiative, Google is also diversifying into new areas, such as testing a wireless Internet network.
Its almost a sure thing to expect Googles search engine competitors, namely Yahoo and Microsofts MSN, to come through with their own versions of map ads, said a source familiar with the search engines plans.
“I would expect an answer from them very quickly,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to damage a business relationship with all three companies.