The Sydney Morning Herald reports "in the coming weeks Google will put logos for fast food chains, coffee shops, hotels and travel agents on its popular maps site." A WebmasterWorld thread has one member asking if this is just going to be tested in Australia or in the US also. He said:
It appears that this is going to expand out the icons use in Austrialia on Google Maps, but it's not clear that they necessarily intend to do this in the United States. The've already had really extensive sponsor icons in Japan maps, but fewer sponsor icons appearing on U.S. maps.
Perhaps they're trying to master it in a foreign market before expanding it out in the U.S.?
Google currently allows special icons in maps for advertisers. Here is a picture of my company's paid map listing:
It seems as if this move would dramatically add more of these ads on the maps. The main question is, will they be relevant or distracting?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.