For months, the marketplace has been talking about micro-moments, which Google defines as instances when people use their mobile devices search for places to go and things to buy. During micro-moments, consumers not only search — they also purchase, either in the moment or shortly thereafter at an offline location. I agree with Google that brands need to be present with compelling content during micro-moments — especially “near me” micro-moments — to turn those searches into revenue. But to be visible during micro-moments, brands need help. They need data amplifiers.
Data amplifiers consist of publishers such as Google and data aggregators such as Neustar Localeze, which together make sure an enterprise’s location data is unleashed to all the places where people conduct near me searches. Data amplifiers have become more important because near me searches have become more complicated. Consumers now discover brands across a vast ecosystem comprising search engines, apps and platforms. Someone looking for a doctor or a restaurant might rely on a Google app, Yelp, Foursquare or an Apple Spotlight Search, to cite just a few examples. The challenge for brands is, How do they make sure their location data is visible where all those moments of discovery happen?
The answer is not to rely on search engine optimization to act as your sole location marketing strategy (although SEO is an essential component.) And the answer is certainly not applying a paid inclusion approach across tier-two directories. It’s far more effective for a brand to focus its energies on a smaller group of high-impact data amplifiers complemented by a few leading vertical-market publishers. The amplifiers consist of:
- Publishers such as Apple, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and Yelp, which share your data with consumers in their ecosystems.
- Aggregators like Acxiom, Infogroup, Factual, and Neustar Localeze (of which I was a cofounder), which distribute business data to publishers.
Here’s a table that gives you a bit more detail:
|Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, and Neustar Localeze||Data aggregators are important because they distribute business data to publishing outlets such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. For instance, Neustar Localeze distributes business data to more than 100 search platforms, navigation systems and mobile apps, such as Nokia and Yahoo! (Nokia, in turn, ensures that in-car navigation systems include your business data.) On the other hand, Factual specializes in making real-time data available via mobile and also boasts relationships with publishers such as Weather Channel and Yelp.|
|Apple||Apple Maps was developed for iOS, iOS X, and Apple Watch. Apple Maps Connect facilitates self-service for local listings.|
|Bing||The default search engine for Siri, crucial for voice-activated local searches.|
|The launch of Facebook Place Tips and beacons elevate the importance of local Facebook pages for driving foot traffic to stores.|
|Foursquare||Foursquare extends a business’s reach beyond the Foursquare user base: more than 90,000 developers ranging from Pinterest to Waze rely on Foursquare data to inform their location listings.|
|Google organic and local search results, Google Maps, knowledge graph, and the multitude of sites and apps that leverage Google results are powered by location data within Google My Business accounts.|
|Yelp||Yelp long ago expanded beyond restaurant reviews; it’s a location data partner for major brands ranging from Apple to Mercedes-Benz. Yelp’s influence also extends into industries such as healthcare.|
Data amplifiers distribute and publish your data to a broader audience than you could ever do on your own — what I call the “network effect.” Your brand becomes more visible because your business data becomes more open and accessible to the influencers who are in a position to help customers find your business. But if data amplifiers lack accurate information about your locations, your business might not be found (or conflicting information will be listed) when someone uses Apple Maps or Google Maps to do a near me search for businesses in your category.
Data amplifiers are important for another reason. When you provide your data to amplifiers, you also create possibilities for your data to be used by emerging local search technologies such as wearables, beacons, mobile apps, smart houses and self-driving cars. I remain constantly amazed at how many breakthroughs occur each year to solve local search queries. Those changes reverberate throughout the local search ecosystem. For instance, when Siri emerged years before Apple purchased the company, Siri needed to license a database of local listings in order to launch. When you share your data with the amplifiers, you ensure that your business is found amid such emerging devices, platforms or operating systems as they grow in popularity. Here is another example: if you share your location data with data amplifier Foursquare, then as an app such as Waze grows in popularity, your business is more findable due to Foursquare’s relationship with Waze.
It is essential that you treat your location data as a competitive asset unleashed across the digital world. How are you working with data amplifiers to be found where people are looking for you?
Gib Olander is vice president of product at Chicago-based SIM Partners.