Last week, after I uncovered that Apple Maps had cut deals with at least ten new companies (including Yext, Location3, Yodle, et cetera) to provide business listings data, I got a few emails asking what the big deal was. Here’s what I see is going on:
1. Apple has come to realize that organizing the world’s local business listings information is no small job.
2. Apple has come to realize that relying on big data aggregators is great for getting bulk but not so great for getting quality, particularly when you want real-time info like whether or not a location is open or closed at the moment.
3. By partnering with big local marketing tech companies and agencies, Apple gets partners to do the heavy lifting in local data for the most popular local businesses, big multi-location brands and SMBs with budgets to hire these partners to take care of their data issues for them. My estimate is that these deals will cover about 1,000,000 listings in the U.S. alone. And with companies like Yext and Yodle expanding globally over the next year, that number should grow considerably.
4. While I expect Apple to bring more partners into the fold over time, the companies on the initial list get a huge differentiator versus their competitors. To date, Apple Maps has been a virtual black box for most businesses but we are hearing from companies on the list that since we published the post they have been contacted by clients and potential clients who want to get more info on the service. At a time when it’s hard to tell one local digital marketing service from another, a slide depicting a direct pipeline into Apple Maps makes for a pretty sweet pitch deck. I imagine the companies that are not on the list — Moz Local, Local Site Submit, GoDaddy, Local Market Launch, MomentFeed, ReachLocal, Where2GetIt & RioSEO come to mind — have been Facetiming the Apple Maps team aggressively over the past few days.
I think this will be a big win for Apple Maps. If the system works, we should see a dramatic increase in POI data quality quickly. I know that Google has done similar deals like this with Yellow Pages companies in non-U.S. countries. Maybe they have even done them in the U.S. but I haven’t heard about it. Seems like a much better way to go than relying on some ever-shifting algorithm.