Google is finally adding icon-type ads into Google Maps. From Cnet:
Users will notice that with certain searches on Google Local, icons representing types of businesses will appear on the map corresponding with a particular merchant. A given icon might be a coffee cup, a shopping bag, a grocery cart, a car or, in the case of Ralph Lauren, a flower. When someone clicks the icon, a balloon pops up containing more information about the merchant, including a logo or photo and maybe a link to the merchant's Web site.
I suggested this last summer in a Future Boy column titled "Where Google Maps Will Take Us" (which I've reprinted after the break):
If local ads become the next large growth market in search, wouldn't maps be a great place to show them? Google's AdSense places text ads on other websites; the same thing could be done with maps. The company could call it MapSense.
Google is actually calling it Local Business Ads. I'm glad to see they are finally making that a live feature.