There has been some talk recently in the blogsphere about Google Earth’s ads. Some blogs seemed to be a bit confused about how to see them, and others had their facts wrong. So, I decided to write something about them.
First of all, the ads in Google Earth are very unobtrusive. In fact, they have been in Google Earth since the beginning of 2006. And, as I previously reported, if you have the PLUS version of GE you can turn the ads off. You only see the ads if you perform a localized search for a product or service. Even then, they are only seen in a subtle fashion. Ads only appear for cities where Google has business address information tied to its maps. So, for any country which has a localized version of Google Maps, you will likely find ads. So far, there are localized versions for the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
To see the ads…
First, to see the ads you need to use the “Search” pane to “Fly To” a location. Entering a city like say “New York City” works. Next, select the “Local Search” tab above the search field. Now enter “What” you want to search for. Search for “Coffee” for example. You will get a list of coffee locations for New York City. Click on the various choices and for some of them you will likely see a light blue box below the normal placemark description with an ad in it. You will see the words “Sponsored Link”. The ads don’t always appear. If you click on the same placemark you will sometimes see an ad, sometimes not.
If you provide an address, you will get even more localized searches. In my example I added “5th Avenue” to the “Where” field and got Coffee shops only near 5th Avenue. You can pretty much search for “Coffee” and see ads for any of the countries listed above. Try “Paris” for example. You don’t have to use the “Local Search“, you can also enter “Coffee” in the “Fly To” window after you’ve flown to a location.
I believe Google is still being tentative with their ads for business/product/services in Google Earth. I’m glad that they don’t in any way interfere with the user experience of browsing Google Earth and the very useful content people are producing. But, the ads are there if you look for them.