How Google Maps Sponsored Links Almost Ruined a Wedding


Okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but this insertion of sponsored search results sure did lead to a lot of confusion on a day where it’s pretty important that people be able to find the venue. You see, my best friend of 25 years was getting married at this adorable little B&B, tucked away in a wooded area, just off of a small county road. A place that doesn’t show up in Google Maps when you search by name, but does when you search by the exact address. That is, unless your search results are hijacked by a Sponsored Link.

As most of the wedding party and attendees used their smartphones to look up directions, they found themselves taken to a Montessori Academy about 10 miles south of the actual venue — completely confused. Unfortunately I didn’t think to grab a screenshot while I was in Austin, but the promoted link looks like this:

Only in our situation, the sponsored link was so far south that the red pin didn’t even show on the screen — if you’re not paying full attention, you’re just going to go to the big, shiny thing that popped up on your screen. While I admit there’s a certain responsibility on the user to verify the results match their search, at the same time you kind of expect Google to do its job when you type in the EXACT FUCKING ADDRESS.¬†As a result, the officiant almost missed the rehearsal, family members got very lost, and at least a third of the guests missed the actual wedding.

In the end it wasn’t a disaster, all of the important people were in their spots on cue for what turned out to be a beautiful ceremony. It’s just frustrating when a technology that people rely on and blindly trust bites you in the ass, especially during an already stressful time. You can do better Google.

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