Google Maps “Promoted Pins” feature that’s freaking everyone out is not new

Update: Google has clarified that what was mistaken as a popup is actually “Promoted Pins,” which are nothing new and only appear when you tap a location on the map.

Google spokesperson, July 2024

When the same was told to Anthony Higman, the person who first posted about the feature, he was adamant that he did not tap anything and the suggestion popped up on its own. The good thing is that Higman said that the popup disappeared on its own in less than a minute.

The original article continues below.

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Google Maps has started suggesting sponsored stops to drivers.

As X user Anthony Higman has shared, Google’s map app will not shy away from suggesting a quick detour to get you to visit one of the locations paying it to advertise on the app. Highman was asked to make a stop at Royal Farms, which is rated 2.9.

Apparently, these hangouts are suggested arbitrarily and don’t have anything to do with your search history, which is how online ads usually work.

As if we don’t have enough ads all around us already, be it in the form of billboards when we are on the road or on websites we frequent, Google has somehow decided it’s a good idea to blast ads in your face when you are driving.

Since the ads appear while you are driving, they are quite distracting and potentially dangerous. And from the looks of it, the popup doesn’t go away unless you tap on “Cancel” or “Add stop.” Given many people rely on audio instructions while driving, tempting them to interact with the screen could jeopardise their safety.

A sponsored ad in Google Maps in the middle of your journey could potentially cause you to lose sight of where you were supposed to be going, especially if you are a new or inexperienced driver.

Google seems to have lifted this bright idea from its subsidiary Waze, which is allegedly only supposed to show sponsored suggestions when your vehicle is not moving, but, as some users have observed, that’s not the case.

It’s not known whether this feature is in testing or is here to stay. Higman has already declared that he will stop using the app if he gets sponsored suggestions every time he is driving. Not everyone hates the feature though, with one X user mentioning that it could be a good way to discover new places to go to. 

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