back to article Web ad giant (Google) pops Adwords into Maps for iOS and Android

Google has finally woken up and integrated Adwords into its mobile mapping app, pushing paid results onto the top of the heap along with directions guiding customers to your door. The ad addition came with the last update to Google Maps for Android and iOS. It switches on this week with ads popping up at the bottom when one …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you think Google is a software company? the software is just a delivery platform for the adverts.

    1. James Hughes 1


      What you wrote is basically completely obvious.

      They are a software company. Almost everything they do requires software, good software. It also requires people to write that software, and those people need to be paid. Adverts pay those people.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Yes.

        You could say the same about most companies. They don't sell software, or at least they don't sell much software. They sell adverts. People mostly go to Google to search for things, so they sell adverts related to what people are searching for. Yes, they do other things like email as well, but it is mostly classified adverts.

    2. BillG

      So you think Google is a software company? the software is just a delivery platform for the adverts.

      Thank you, Captain Obvious.

      The takeaway is this: Don't Update Maps This Week!

    3. M Gale

      By that definition, neither Microsoft nor Apple are software companies. The software is just a prison to keep you in while they shake you down every couple of years.

      1. Joe Gurman

        Apple's certainly not a software company

        They only write software to get you to buy hardware or content. And you're never "locked in" to any vendor's garden, because no one is forcing you to buy it.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Adverts on maps?


    I think I'll stick with proper maps, you know the ones printed on large sheets of dead tree that work even out of range of the phone network.

    1. Wize

      Re: Adverts on maps?

      That are never get automatically updated. That would fill a small van to get down to the street level for every single road in the UK. That don't have a built in GPS to help locate which of the many pages you are currently on.. That don't shout out directions when you are busy driving.

      By the way, you can download maps in advance and use them with no mobile signal.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Adverts on maps?

        Ask yourself how often there are SIGNIFICANT changes to any map in this country?

        The answer is once in a blue moon.

        I have some Bartholemew's maps dating from 1931. I can still navigate around with them. I do accept that motorways aren't there but all the little roads are....

        You really don't need maps for 'A' class roads these days if you have an ounce of 'sense of direction'.

        I feel that for the most part 'Maps on phones' are there because we can do it, rather than we really need to do it.

        Yeah, I'm a luddite in some areas and proud of it.

        1. Fibbles

          Re: Adverts on maps?

          If a city centre introduces a new one-way system the changes to the map are not significant - after all no roads have actually changed. Yet, if you drive into that city centre unaware of the changes the effect on your journey will be significant.

        2. Wize

          Re: Adverts on maps?

          Imagine driving round an unfamiliar part of the UK. The main A road suddenly hits a city ring road. Junctions are marked for local town names, but not being from that area, you can't tell which one is to the north and which one is to the south, and end up making a lap round the ring road before you escape.

          I had a paper map, but no where convenient to pull over and check, especially when presented with the town named junctions. A friendly voice from a phone telling me to "turn left" at an appropriate point would have helped immensely, however it was back in the days before mobiles.

          I have had problems at junctions that look different to even the most up to date maps, on one occasion causing me to be late for a job interview even though I had researched the route the night before.

          I do not look back on that technology level favourably.

    2. cambsukguy
      Thumb Down

      Re: Adverts on maps?

      Just like Nokia ones, which also tell you where you are, allow searching, routing etc., even on foot. They even have maps for indoors like airports and shopping centres, very handy and totally better than a paper map.

      Dead trees are a backup for when the phone is severely compromised and there is a real risk, like when hiking - when OS maps can literally be a life-saver. And yes, I also use OS maps on my phone, pre-loading or getting some coverage in the hills is usually fine and the location/direction is great in low vis.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Adverts on maps?

      It does amuse me that luddites and technophobes come to el reg (a predominantly technology based news site) so they can complain about new (and not so new) technologies and how they "won't catch me using those new-fangled devices".

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Ted Treen

      Re: Adverts on maps?

      Ha! wait til you ask 'er indoors to fold it again...

  3. janimal
    Big Brother

    I remember when

    there were no handy maps available on your phone. It usually involved looking up an address before leaving the house, or asking someone when you arrived in the general vicinity. I hardly ever got lost, the world didn't end, dogs and cats didn't sleep together.

    Now that they have disabled latitude, I've decided to screw all this shit and return to those old days.

    I'm so,so tired of people trying to manipulate me into their tech eco-system or trying to monetize my every waking fucking move.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: I remember when

      "there were no handy maps available on your phone. It usually involved looking up an address before leaving the house, or asking someone when you arrived in the general vicinity. I hardly ever got lost, the world didn't end, dogs and cats didn't sleep together."

      Meh. The problem with getting directions for me is that I have a terrible memory for them - I tend to forget everything after the next one or two steps. I have to write them down (or print them) and after each step or two, find a spot to pull in and check the next step or two.

      For complicated directions, that can add quite a lot to the journey time.

      So, for me, satnav is ideal... except that over the last few years I've found myself using satnav less and less, and an improved version of old my lo-tech navigation system more and more. The improvement being a heads up display to avoid the need for that stopping to update my memory after each step (provided the light is right - though I haven't had any real problems with it yet).

      How does it work? I print out my basic directions at a reasonable size, with the text mirrored, and I place that on my dashboard. Those directions reflect on the windscreen so that they are readable with a slight shift of focus.

      Although it hasn't happened yet, if I make a mistake I could revert to the satnav on my phone to get me back on track - or (where practical) I could grab a suitably thick fibre tipped pen and write out new directions from an atlas. (I can write in reverse, but the right pen means I don't have to: Write the directions, then use the other side of the paper for the reflection).

      "I'm so,so tired of people trying to manipulate me into their tech eco-system or trying to monetize my every waking fucking move."

      Too right.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I remember when

      I'm so,so tired of people trying to manipulate me into their tech eco-system or trying to monetize my every waking fucking move.

      Diddums. They're not trying to manipulate you. They're of the opinion that if they put thousands of man-days into a project, they should be able to recoup that money.

      It's terrible how you're being manipulated into using it for free while someone else foots the bill.

      1. janimal

        Re: I remember when

        @JDX - the manipulation comment was actually referring to Google killing latitude in favour of adding that functionality to g+ now if you want to use those functions you have to sign up for g+ - that is manipulative. However it is also pertinent to the general attitude of most commercial operations these days

        @others I should point out that as a biker I have never used any direction aids while riding. There maybe some available for bikers, but I use this thing called a brain to preview my route and then remember it. With the aid of road signs this has worked well in 26 years of riding.

        I have to admit though that street view has been very good for actually looking at the key problem junctions of the route on the desktop before leaving. It makes a real difference when you get to the fiddly end of your journey.

      2. stuff and nonesense

        Re: I remember when

        "Diddums. They're not trying to manipulate you. They're of the opinion that if they put thousands of man-days into a project, they should be able to recoup that money."

        The money invested in the tool that is Maps was invested to GATHER DATA, to make you into product for companies willing to pay for the adverts. Google do a good job at mapping applications.

        Google advertise their own services - Advertising is manipulation. The adverts persuade you to use the services. You become product - your info is used to enable Google to target ads to your mobile / PC / (insert device here). Google performs its core business activity - SELLING ADVERTISEMENTS. Google is not a software house.

        You got it back to front JDX.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I remember when

        "Diddums. They're not trying to manipulate you. They're of the opinion that if they put thousands of man-days into a project, they should be able to recoup that money."

        You really believe Google adds ads to Maps to get compensation for development costs?

        You know Google's main income stream, right? Hint: It's ads, indeed.

        Can we stop picturing Google as the "do no evil" nice guys next door? They are not. They are out there to make money, just like any other company. Of course they do need a couple of good products with massive market share as a medium to transport ads. (Search, Google Mail, Maps, etc etc)

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: I remember when

      I remember that too. Driving around with MS AutoRoute print-outs on your lap wasn't much fun.

      I've just looked, apparently they still sell it. I would have thought it had long since been replaced with Bing Maps.

  4. James Hughes 1

    Note to commentards

    Google Maps is a good system. Adding Adword doesn't cause a problem to using the app. Google have staff. Staff wrote maps. Staff need paying.

    If you don't like the advert, don't click/tap on it.

    There, I think that just about covers it.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Note to commentards

      @James Hughes 1 - Well said, and very true! Too many people seem to think that everything they use on their phone should be free.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Note to commentards

      Check out any app store and if two versions of the app are available, a free with ads or a paid without (and no extra functionality) then the numbers of installs will be massively higher for the 'free' version.

      People don't mind adverts in exchange for a free product - look at commercial TV. Heck, people even pay Murdoch for TV with adverts!

      One of the big reasons Google became popular was due to their search engine having very simple text ads. Anyone who remembers the competition at the time will also remember the flashing banner ads that were encroaching into every available bit of white space on the page.

    3. stuff and nonesense

      Re: Note to commentards


      You are correct, Google Maps is a good system.

      The reason for its existence is simple. It is to provide product to advertisers. It is a tool that Google use to entice people to use Google services.

      The same can be said for Search, Picasa, Android etc. etc.

      The sole reason for these tools is to capture information about the users. This in turn provides "good information" for targetting adverts.

      People who use these tools become product for the real Google customers - the businesses who PAY for the adverts served by Google.

      Paying for staff : how to put this... Staff are an overhead that must be covered in order for a business to function. These people are cheap in relation to the amount of revenue generated by their efforts (Google's balance sheet is in the billions). They write programs to hook users.

      Google are not altruistic in providing "free" tools for phones or the web. The tools are made to suit Google purposes first and foremost, that they are attractive to users is part of Google's purposes.

  5. Doozerboy

    If only Apple Maps wasn't still crap....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm trying to decide if your downvotes came from ifans who think maps isn't crap or from fandroids offended by the mere mention of the fruit-themed foxconn-rebrander.

  6. cambsukguy

    Google maps cost money

    Simply because they are almost always used when not in wireless coverage. Hardly anyone downloads al the maps they will need in advance - never even seen someone do it.

    The upshot is therefor that data plans are bigger than they would otherwise need to be, "unlimited is recommended"

    Since I see the difference between 21 pounds month for a free phone and reasonable data (500MB say) and all-you-can-eat or similar at 27, 30 or whatever pounds per month and I know that it isn't web pages that make the extra required, it is such things as maps, which gobble insane amounts of data (and slow everything up).

    Obviously, they are also crap abroad (how does anyone STAND being without maps when abroad - just when they are most needed?).

    So, unless you are a big mobile Netflix/youtube user that needs huge data allowance anyway, you are paying for your free mapping.

    The hilarious thing is, I can also use Google maps if I want, usually only the street view, when absolutely required of course - extremely data intensive that it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google maps cost money

      Wow, hardly any assumptions in that post.

      Yes they should just call the unlimited data plans the "Google Maps plan" because that is *obviously* the main reason for it!


    2. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Google maps cost money

      I download maps in advance fairly often. Every time I leave my country, basically.

      I hope that somewhere down the road we will stop paying 10X for bits when roaming, but until then, downloading in advance is something I need.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google maps cost money

      Errrrrm, I've just done six months around the world. Not once did I switch on 3G or 'roam' for data, I downloaded the (Google) map for my next location using the free wifi at the hotel I am currently staying in.

      In iOS it reports the total size of the app that's installed, after being abroad for six months, caching maps every 2/3 days my total app size was 100MB.

      Are you ACTUALLY saying I would've needed an unlimited plan for that? And for your reference, Virgin Mobile do a VIP plan for £15 per month...that includes unlimited calls, texts and you guessed it, DATA...including tethering.


    4. Al Jones

      Re: Google maps cost money

      A TomTom or Garmin GOS can pack maps for the whole of Western Europe or North America onto a 2GB SD card, with room to spare. So I doubt that Google Maps map data is quite as big as you suggest. Of course, if you enable the Satellite View layer, and pull traffic updates all the time too, you'll use more data, but Google Maps can be fairly meagre in it's data usage, for what it delivers.

      That said, the Ads will probably take up more bandwidth than the maps, now.

  7. Shades

    Ads? Solution: Don't Update.

    As it stands, before this update, Maps probably does everything 99% of people need: Find places, give directions, show traffic, bookmarks locations, street view, and integrates with Navigation. Unless Google have found some unbelievably awesome killer feature to add, to encourage updating the app, then I can't see the point of most people, myself included, in updating it... Well, that is until Google start slyly and slowly disable functionality for, or nagging to death, those without the right app version number. So, simple solution, if you don't want to see the ads then don't update.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ads? Solution: Don't Update.

      The latest update was a pretty major one though with a totally new system and interface. I agree that the old version fulfilled a lot of needs, but it wasn't a small incremental update.

      I guess just look at the advert as a 'cost' for running the new, improved(?) version of the app with free updates and if that cost is too high then stick with the old version.

      1. RDW

        Re: Ads? Solution: Don't Update.

        >The latest update was a pretty major one though with a totally new system and interface.

        There are major changes, but most of them downgrades. 'My maps' are gone, offline caching has been crippled, local search and navigation are degraded, the large text and measurement options are gone, and (at least in the UK) the colour scheme has changed for the worse (e.g. B-roads are no longer a different colour to unclassified roads):

        The road colouring problem affects the old and new desktop versions of Google Maps too, but the old Android version (6.x) still works as before. Any 'improvements' to the Android app seem to be trivial (slightly prettier appearance, etc.), or designed to please the advertisers. I've switched off automatic updates to keep the old version, which is still fully functional (though Latitude is about to be killed off). Maps 7.x is by far the worst 'update' I've seen for any Google app.

        1. Vector

          @RDW - Re: Ads? Solution: Don't Update.

          Agreed and add to the list: No night mode and, at least on my phone, the track slews between 30 and 70 degrees off up which is probably why it never really gets into 3d mode.

          Was really happy I have a newer phone so I could dump the latest update. I really hate when developers take a perfectly functional app and screw it up by making it "better."

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ads? Solution: Don't Update.

      All of the above assumes that Google didn't slip the adwords functionality into the LAST update...and it's just waiting to start showing :-o

  8. Buzzword

    iOS app?

    Yet another reason why I'm glad I stuck to iOS 5. No messing around with my Google Maps!

    1. Doozerboy

      Re: iOS app?

      Good luck in using your phone when ios7 comes out and devs drop support for ios5

  9. Nifty

    Notice how Google Maps held back from doing the obvious AdWords when it first snuck back onto IOS 6?

    Just to make sure it was at home...

    Step 2: sneak in the ads with an update

    Softly, softly cachee monkey

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Giving a free trial of software to get people using it is hardly a new idea.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Funny but

    I am seeing Google Ads at the top of this page as I type this.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    copying IOS yet again!

    IOS insists network stays on when using GPS.

    That will ensure iAds works better Sad to see Google copying them yet again..

    1. Joe Gurman

      Re: copying IOS yet again!

      Sorry, what IOS are you talking about? Cisco's operating system? Or Apple's iOS?

      My iPad is perfectly happy downloading all the information it needs for a trip in maps before I leave the house, and after that, with LTE off. You don't need the network to use Maps in iOS. And despite all the supposed gaffs, it's always been right in the part of the US where I live. YMMV.

  12. Steven Burn


    I'll stick with my non-smartphone, lovely little clam shell (LG GB220), and Tom Tom sat nav for cases where I need directions (only ever need it when driving anyway, and even then, only if going somewhere I've never been before, or rarely go to).

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