Google Maps testing invasive ads for Sponsored Stops while Driving

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Some Google Maps users have been suddenly getting invasive ads while driving. The ads can result in dangerous distractions that should not occur in that context. They even require you to touch the device screen if you want to discard them.

Google is a specialist in internet advertising, and its ad systems are usually implemented in a decent way. However, the company’s latest test on the Google Maps app seems like one of the worst ideas they’ve had in years. According to reports, the Google Maps app UI is suddenly showing random ads for sponsored stops.

New Google Maps ads are annoying and dangerous

The ad appears in the form of a pop-up that takes up a notable portion of the UI. It prevents you from properly seeing the map until you interact with it. This means that you will have to take both your eyes off the road and one hand off the road. Additionally, the ads completely deviate from the “targeted ads” format, since they are not even related to your search history. Basically, they are random pop-ups from businesses that pay to appear there, without even being of interest to you.

Anthony Higman is one of the users getting this kind of annoying ad. Higman posted on X/Twitter how Maps was suggesting a detour to Royal Farms, a place whose user rating is 2.9 stars. So, it seems that the system does not even take into account whether the site has a good reputation among those who have visited it.

google maps invasive ads
Distracting ads on Google Maps

If you were visually guiding yourself to an address with a map, these kinds of ads on Google Maps can be dangerous, especially if you are a new driver. The pop-ups are also annoying when using navigation guided by audio instructions. Audio-based navigation is normally used to avoid having to touch the device screen while driving. However, you will be forced to do so once the ad appears. The pop-up offers two options: “Cancel” and “Add stop.”

A poorly implemented Waze-inspired feature

Apparently, the function is inspired by one of Waze. However, the ads should appear with the vehicle at rest. The fact that they appear while driving seems like a pretty bad idea and could be the origin of a potential traffic accident.

It is unknown if the feature is in testing or if it will be permanently rolled out to everyone soon. Let’s hope Google takes note of user complaints about this feature. Although the idea behind it may be good, it is not implemented in the best (or safest) way.

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