Google are asking advertisers to sign up to icon placement on Google Maps. This is currently beta-tested in US and Australia:
This was found by browsing around on Google Maps Australia
Vodaphone and a Hi Fi shop have there logos appearing on the map denoting their location. This is based on replacing the existing generic map symbols Google use, e.g. a shopping bag for stores, a bed for hotels. Since many brands have highly memorable logos this is a good step forward. The main application and reason for development is the use on smartphones as more and more people use Google Maps to get around on the go. One of the applications I have heard mentioned is finding ATMs for certain banks nearby to your location by visually seeing them plotted on Google Maps.
It all depends on how Google monetize this (currently on CPM basis) and also how cluttered and garish Google allow maps to be.For example, the below screenshot from New York (US Google Maps) already has around 50 locations plotted and the HSBC icon beta-testing but imagine if all of these were brand logos and it would look rather more colourful and cluttered:
It would be useful to perhaps switch off some of the logos if you are just looking to print off the map for directions. For somewhere like Oxford St, it would just be logo after logo after logo, but if you are looking, for example, the location of a specific store like Lush Cosmetics or Boots or the nearest McDonalds and you’re on or nearby Oxford St it could give you are great reference point, e.g. follow the trail of Uniqlo, H&M and Dorothy Perkins and huhzah, you arrive at the store of your choice.