Monetize Your Google Maps

In a somewhat quiet but noteworthy move the Google Maps API now gives developers an officially sanctioned way to overlay advertisements directly onto their maps. And share the revenue. This was announced by Google's Pamela Fox in the maps API newsgroup. You access this new functionality through an API object named GAdsManager (see the reference guide here). "A GAdsManager object fetches AdSense ads and displays them on a specified map. Ads show up as GMarkers and can be clicked on to bring up the ad within the marker's info window. The GAdsManager selects AdSense ads based on the current viewport and the surrounding textual content on the page." More from Pamela's post:

At Developer Day in May, we previewed GAdsManager, a class that would place contextual ad markers for local businesses in a special layer on your map and help you monetize it. We've now released the ads layer with the addition of GAdsManager in Maps API v2.85, and it's ready for early testers.

I've put together a demo of the ads layer here:

After loading that page and waiting for a few seconds, you should see a white marker show up-this is an ad in the ads layer. If you click on the marker, you should see the text and logo of this ad, for a hotel. If you pan to New York City, you'll probably see another hotel ad show up. Since this feature is in its very early stages, our local ad inventory is small and you might notice that only a limited number of ads show up. As we roll out this program to more advertisers, we expect to see an increase in ad inventory and thus an increase in the number of ads that show up in the ads layer on your map. Currently, the feature only shows ads for businesses in US. Apologies to our (many) international developers, who can, however, still implement the ads layer in advance of international ad inventory becoming available.

The groups conversation on this topic includes some good questions:

  • Q: Do I need an AdSense account to use this? A: Yes.
  • Q: Is it available in Maplets? A: Not yet, but likely.
  • Q: Is there a way to 'tell' or 'hint' what you want the ads to be about? The issue is, when it's "just a map" there's less textual context for Google's AdSense algorithm's to work from. A: Not yet, part of the concern is how to prevent gaming the system.
  • Q: Can AdSense Channels be used to segment across maps? A: Yes.

With services like this and Lat49 it looks like there's going to be increasing array of options for mashup developers to monetize their applications.

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