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How Will Google Handle Conflicting Map Icons?

Google Maps this week started to display advertiser logos in relevant locations. We’re all for a little advertising to help fund a super-useful free service, but what happens when there’s more than one advertiser vying to appear in the same location?

The service is being tested in Australia first, and as Google explains:

Advertisers will pay to have these sponsored map icons appear on the Map instead of a generic icon, helping to generate awareness of their locations among the millions of people who visit Google Maps every day.

Given the initial bunch of sponsors Google has for the service (which include BankWest and JB Hi-Fi), it’s not hard to imagine locations like shopping malls suddenly being awash with icons. However, a Google Australia representative told Lifehacker that the system is designed not to create clashes:

The placement of the icons, both the generic non-paid ones, and the new paid ones with the logo, are determined algorithmically. In the case that two are in very close proximity, we’ll determine algorithmically which one is relevant to show. Advertisers will only pay when their logo is shown.

Of course, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility that an advertiser icon will get chosen over the non-paid service you were actually interested in, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Turn left at the chemist and I’ll meet you at the ATM [Google Australia Blog]