Google announced the beta of "sponsored map icons" in the US. "Now, when you zoom in to areas on Google Maps, you'll more easily be able to spot locations of companies and brands, as business owners are now allowd to replace standard icons with their logos. These logos appear directly on map and when clicked open the Place page for that business. In addition to helping you find locations for some of your favorite businesses, these recognizable logos also help business owners promote storefronts of their well-visited locations," explains Google.
In coming weeks, these sponsored map icons will be visible on mobile phones. So if you're rushing to meet friends, you can quickly zoom in on the map to located places.
Participation in this beta doesn't affect visibility on the map; the new feature is only available to businesses that already appear on the map, and whose default icons can be swapped out for their logo.