As SinglePlatform’s name suggests, the acquisition is a sign of changing and challenging times for search-related internet businesses. Facing pressure from a Google juggernaut that is increasingly mapping out any imaginable search experience on its own properties, digital services that connect consumers with restaurants or places to visit when traveling are consolidating, aiming to offer holistic information that keeps searchers coming back.
For Brandify’s local search consumer survey, consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.
The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.
Blumenthal: Google Maps is/has become the primary discovery tool in many categories. That is a significant shift of which agencies and owners need to be aware.
Mihm: Yep. I’m not sure I would even have had our ThriveHive data science team look for this data point specifically had you not tipped me off. But sure enough, across our dataset of nearly 20,000 GMB Profiles, we found that Maps impressions outweigh Search impressions by nearly 3:1 (72% to 28% over the last 18 months).
As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.
This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.
Of all of the technologies and consumer touchpoints to local commerce, mapping is perhaps the most relevant. This centuries-old technology has gone into hyperdrive over the past 15 years since the launch of Google Maps, and it continues to be a primary tool for local search and discovery.
But what’s the state of the art and how is it evolving? This will be Street Fight’s focus in the month of September. This follows last month’s connected car theme and past months’ reporting and commnetary on privacy, retail transformation and the “beyond the screen” evolution of voice and visual search.
Retailers are only beginning to realize the potential of AR. As a new generation of shoppers steeped in AR grows up, their expectations will exceed the novelty acts the industry has put out to date. AR features won’t just be a one-off promo or tied to a game release; they will become the basis of the in-store customer experience, one that looks nothing like the retail of today.
Google’s calculated risk in creating a low bar for verification works out fine in a world where most business owners simply want to gain legitimate access to their own listings, and most businesses do operate within those ethical boundaries. But as we’ve seen elsewhere at this stage in the evolution of social networks, fraud and deceptive manipulation have become a kind of ghost in the machine, dominating darker sectors of the local marketplace and creating an atmosphere of distrust that may eventually prove more broadly contagious.
All of this is only possible when lots of activity is consolidated on a few platforms. Just as fake accounts attempting to engineer the 2016 election thrived in the vast and complex Facebook ecosystem, so too has Google’s dominance in local attracted its own horde of opportunists, drawn like moths to its flame. Indeed, fraud in local listings is just the latest in a long history of attempts, from link farms to keyword spam, to manipulate loopholes in Google’s regulations and algorithms.
Blumenthal to Mihm: It seems to me that Google could take the fake listings issue off the table by seriously investing in cleaning up the fake listing and fake review issue. I just don’t think that they think that way.
At a minimum, as the company that has the monopoly in the local space, Google faces the expectation and responsibility to provide a service that truly serves the public and businesses. And they seem to forget that.
On this week’s LBMA podcast: Facebook files new patents, JoAnn taps Teemo, Favendo at Frankfurt airport, Google Map’s “For You,” Domino’s hotspots, Mariott + PepsiCo go virtual reality art. Special guest: Gabriel Bedoya – The Insights Company.
TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING… Facebook Announces Slew of Changes to Boost Local Businesses… Here Attacks Google Maps with New Freemium Website Plan… Alexa Users Are Reportedly Not Buying Anything with Their Voice…
In recent months, Google has launched a number of changes to Maps. Users will win with the more personalized and intuitive future of the app. Businesses will win, too—so long as you manage your location data, content, and reputation.
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Google Maps Is Becoming More Personal and Useful, and Businesses Can Reap the Benefits… Forrester Estimates E-Commerce on Smartphones Will Hit $209 Billion in 2022… Amazon Go Expands to San Francisco and Chicago…
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Google Maps Platform Arrives, Changing the Game for Developers… Amazon Echo Losing Market Share as Smart Speaker Rivalry Intensifies… Square’s Loss Widens As Spending Picks Up…
Justin O’Beirne marvels that, with the AOI initiative, Google has figured out how to “create data out of data,” meaning that AOIs are a mashup of 3D modeling and data extraction from images. Looked at more broadly, this is not the only example where Google has built features on top of features within the Maps universe.
“It’s incredible to me that given all of Google’s focus on new local products that they are still getting some of the basics wrong,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “People who rely on Google more and more to find local businesses need to know that the fundamental metric of the business quality, reviews, is fair and well policed.”
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Facebook Tests an Enhanced Local Search and Discovery Feature Offering Business Suggestions… Google Maps Supercharges Location Sharing, Begins Drooling Over Your Data… AT&T, Verizon Pull Ads from Google Over ‘Hate’ Videos…
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… New Report from Snaplytics Breaks Down How Brands Fare on Snapchat… Facebook is Beginning to Reach Out to Local Newsrooms… Google Maps Adds Feature Allowing Users to Plan and Share Itineraries…
In cases where community values are not unanimous, public companies are faced with an ethical question, and their answers can help to shape perceptions among users. For many, the removal of a Confederate holidays from Google Maps signals that it is truly a thing of the past.