Google announced the beta of Sponsored Map Icons in the US.

Sponsored Map Icons began as a pilot program in Australia in March this year. 

Sponsored Map icons are specific brand icons that will replace the generic ones Google used to show. The goal is to help users locate a specific brand theyre familiar with.


The new feature starts with a 3 months beta test involving 4 popular US brands: HSBC, Bank of America, Target and Public Storage.  Basically Google seems to be looking at how many mentions the business/brand has on the web and how many people are searching for that brand.

The purpose of the beta program is to learn more about users behavior with these logos and eventually offer the new feature to more companies.

This new feature is also available on the Google Maps iPhone version and mobile version, including Android.


Sponsored Map Icons Cost Money

Companies with a sponsored icon will be charged in a cost per impression model. 

Google explained

since users do not need to perform a specific action to visit the location, i.e. they just need to know there is a bank around the block from the movie theatre, there is no reason to charge on the per click basis

Its important to note that Sponsored Map Icons are not the same as Google sponsored ads, nor are they part of AdWords.  

What Does This Mean To You?

Sponsored Map Icons are not within your reach at the moment but here are 4 actionable takeaways:

  • Claim your Google Place page:  
    We still find unclaimed profiles that have been fed by data providers. Not having a claimed profile will exclude you from new features while users wont trust a profile that has not been verified.
  • Update with the most accurate information:
    Who better than you, the business owner, to update and show what is most relevant in your business. Users are interested in basic information such as business hours, payment types, also coupons or any special events as well
  • Show engagement
    If your client is happy with your services, the client will be happy to provide you with a review, ask them to tell their experience. On the other hand, if there has been any negative incident and you have to deal with negative reviews respond to them by giving your version. That might not solve the incident but it will leave a record on the profile that you care about your customers and at the same time it adds more content to your profile page
  • Obtain citations/mentions:
    Wherever your brand/business is mentioned on the web, include your business name, phone number and address. Google needs to see and believe your business really exists. Remember, links will help your site to rank organically, citations will have influence in ranking on the maps 😉