Category Archives: Mapping

Posts Over At NextWaveSMB: Amazon Echo, Mapvertising, SMB Listings, Website Options, Video’s Next Generation

Here is a peek at the 5 most recent entries from my new blog: NextWaveSMB (sponsored by Booker). We’re taking a fresh look at some of the tech issues coming up for SMBs.

1. “Hey Alexa, Hire a Plumber”
“Amazon Echo is an 9” wireless speaker that hears your spoken query and quickly retrieves “answers” from the Internet, your computer, or the Internet of Things in your house (i.e. your Nest Thermostat). You can ask it to play a song or turn off your lights. You can also ask for a ride from Uber or hire a service pro…..”

2. The New Mapvertising
“Here’s a fairly safe prediction: mapvertising will become much more important in coming years…. It will go far beyond the SMB’s use of maps today, which typically focus on throwing a basic map on the Website, and boosting search rankings. Indeed, several marketing concepts are in development that integrates maps with local offerings, including local delivery services and ‘Connected Cars.’”

3. Building Up SMB Lists for Impact
“Almost 80 percent of SMBs maintain some kind of customer list, according to BIA/Kelsey. The vast majority, however, don’t have a real strategy for adding to the list, or zero-ing in on specific customers. Given the technology and services available, the under-leveraging of customer lists is a missed opportunity……”

4. Weighing SMB Website Options: What Are Your Real Needs?
“For many SMBs, Websites remain highly relevant anchors for driving leads and showcasing relevant content and services– blogs, maps, photos, videos, event calendars and scheduling. The question for many SMBs is: how much Website do you need? Websites are hardly a “one size fits all” affair…..”

5. Video’s Next Generation: Driving SMB Awareness and Engagement
“Video for SMBs is entering a new generation, as it becomes more oriented towards online and mobile and can take advantage of cheap and easy video tools. Now, it is up to SMBs to rethink and get more engaged with their video strategies. Today, SMB videos can be produced on smart phones for little or no cost, or at a higher level by networks of trained videographers. And video search has become so sophisticated that videos can be found across the Internet via search engines and other platforms.…”

The $3 Billion Sale of Here: Possible Impacts on Local Search, Discovery and Delivery

Mapping is poised to be one of the next critical elements of local search, discovery and delivery. As mapping develops, its ramifications on localizing big commerce, the rise of local delivery services, and the development of the Connected Car loom large.

Google certainly sees it, hence its huge investments in Google Maps. Apple sees it, too. But other mapping sources are few and few and the reliance on Google as a common carrier for mapping information makes some parties uneasy.Hence, Nokia’s announcement this week that it will sell its Here mapping division for $3 billion to a consortium of German automakers made up of VW, Daimler and BMW. Here includes the NAVTEQ mapping sources, which were sold to Nokia in 2007 for $8.1 billion.

When the deal closes some time next year, Here will be operated as a separate company and will continue to license its technology to a wide range of players, including Amazon, Fedex and others.

The automakers are already major customers of Here, comprising more than half of its current earnings, which were $319 Million in Q2. As the automakers continue to develop dashboard integrations with mapping – including live search and commerce – they’ll become even more important.

Did the sale to the German automakers make more sense than a sale to Uber, which had also been in negotiation for similar amounts before dropping out? Probably. As we noted in a May 11 post, Uber adds value to its drivers and creates efficiency via mapping. But Uber is able to license its technology to the same effect. While Google could conceiveably compete in some ways down the road (auto hardware and product deliveries?), it isn’t a pressing issue.

Apple Joins the Local Wars: Coupons and Classifieds Next?

Apple finally made some moves into the local mapping wars last week with the purchase of Locationary, which helps find business locations, and HopStop, which provides transit maps and travel suggestions.

We’ll go out on a limb and predict that Apple will want to flesh out its map products with other map- focused media, such as map-based classifieds (Antengo) or coupons and deals (8Coupons).

Apple, meanwhile, has downplayed the significance of the deals, saying it often purchases “small” companies.” The reality, however, is that both companies play key roles in the emerging world of mobile-oriented, map-based advertising and promotions.

One observation we’d make: while the companies bring real value to Apple, they were going to have a hard time scaling on their own, and also didn’t have many options besides Apple, Google , Nokia (HERE) and AOL (Mapquest). Google’s purchase of Waze for $1.1 Billion was driven by the same dynamics (although Waze is arguably more of a popular Web phenomenon along the lines of an Instagram, which is why it got such a big deal).

Of the two companies purchased last week by Apple, we’ve especially been following HopStop, the #4 transportation map behind Google, Mapquest and Waze. The company has worked to develop the scale it needed for advertisers (and for Apple) when it moved beyond its New York base a couple of years ago to spread to 145 markets in six countries, with a major push set for Asia this year. Its transit maps also, conveniently, were fully integrated with Apple Maps.

CEO Joe Meyer always stressed that he had higher aspirations to get beyond the transit maps that the site is best known for. Last November, non-subway maps for biking, taxis and walking, were up about 1000 percent. – helped considerably, at all times, by crowd sourcing telling when roads were closed, train tracks flooded, etc.

Hopstop’s revenue opportunities were always limited. It got major national accounts such as JetBlue, Delta, Macys, Dunkin Donuts, JC Penney, Ikea, ZipCar and major tourism boards and Convention Centers. But the site was a small one. In May 2012, it finally decided to rely on outsourced sales from Travora Media (formerly Travel Ad Network) . “They have the arms and legs to sell ads,” said Meyer.

Here’s a post from last year about why Apple has to get Maps right. And here’s a recent closeup of HopStop.

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Local Mass Transit Sites Benefit From Storm Chaos

Hurricane Sandy forced millions of North-easterners out of their travel routines, closing down regular transit routes and services. It also spurred a boomlet in online and mobile searches for alternative transit, as well as weather.

HopStop, a 20 person, four-year-old site, says its traffic for “non subway” searches was up over 800 percent. Biking, taxi, walking, hourly car rentals and biking usage was way up. Bus-only searches were up over 1000%, and bus-only searches were up over 1300 percent.

At the same time, subway/train-only searches were down over 30 percent over the same time frame (due to many of the subways and trains being out-of-service).

The site, which relies heavily on crowd-sourcing for transit route updates, serves 102 major markets in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K, France and Russia. About a dozen more will be added in coming weeks. In early 2013, there are plans to expand to Southeast Asia.

HopStop self-reports that it is the #1-ranked transit app in iTunes, and the #4 ranked free navigation app in iOS overall (after MapQuest, Waze and Telenav). It recently got a boonfall when it was selected as one of the transit defaults for Apple Maps.

The lion’s share of HopStop’s usage has traditionally comes from the Big Apple, its headquarters city. But with all of the outside growth, New York now accounts for less than 50 percent of its traffic, says CEO Joe Meyer. “We’re in every MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS market,” he notes.

Until recently, HopStop’s major revenue model was geo-targeted ads sold by its own network. The site can sell location aware adds based all current and future whereabouts. “Anyone interested in knowing where people are,” says Meyer. But the company switched in mid-2012 to using Travora (formerly the Travel Ad Network.) “They have the arms and legs to sell ads,” says Meyer.

Top advertisers include such brand names as JetBlue, Delta, Macys, Dunkin’ Donuts, JC Penney, BofA, American Express, Capital One, Disney, Starbucks, ZipCar, Monster, CareerBuilder, as well as major tourism boards and convention bureaus.

It’s All Local: Why Apple Has to Get Maps Right

As the New York Times noted this morning, Apple’s initial iOS6 foray into mobile maps has been greeted with a thumbs down by iPhone 5 reviewers, who prefer the polished Google Maps experience that was the prior default.

But maps –and by extension, local — are strategically important to Apple’s future. You can bet Apple will push hard to get them right. This is no Ping-like exercise, where Apple launches something and then discontinues it.

Apple first signaled its interests in maps in October 2009 with its purchase of PlaceBase – an API company that let developers map locations and services with pushpins.

Where can Apple go with maps – and for that matter, Google, Amazon, Microsoft/Nokia, Yahoo and AOL? Our take on maps is that they’re part of a tandem with data, and the integration of maps, geo fencing techniques, proximity search, and data such as public transit info and listings creates rich opportunities for targeted advertising (“Mapvertising”) and services.

Maps, of course, have come along way from simple store locators, which were the first online application. Just as store locators today are widely integrated with listing data, coupons and other information, you can expect to see the same trajectory in other segments. Deal mapping, for instance, has already had an impact with such companies as The DealMap (now owned by Google), 8Coupons and Bargain Babe LA making it easy to see where the deals are.

Other map concepts have been out there as well, including public transit maps (HopStop), garage maps, jogging maps (Trails.com) and wedding maps (weddingmapper.com.) With the rise of mobile, the key is that they not only provide citywide vertical info for a number of localities (i.e. Zillow maps), but also provide national seamlessness.

It has been noted that maps are the top part of the data pyramid and that if you can map it, everything else is easy. That’s probably true. It’s also true that some of the map centric activity has been premature or out of context. Some of the map-centric directories, ad networks and map-centric SEO efforts have been a little ahead of their time, and also, not always easy enough to use.

MapQuest’s efforts to monetize as a directory showed promise but wasn’t an instant hit. More recently, ABC News got rid of its interesting-but-unessential iPad app, which featured a spinning globe of news stories.

Despite some false starts, Apple has figured out that it has to be in the middle of maps to compete in the next generation of mobile services. We’re excited about Apple’s validation of the power of mapping in local online media and commerce, and expecting to see great progress in short order.

Amazon Gets into Maps and Directories Via UpNext

Amazon has reportedly purchased UpNext, the five year old, 3D mapping and directory service that now provides “clickable building”-oriented maps for over 50 cities, including 23 that are enhanced in depth. The service has experimented with a number of features, including transportation guides, events, happy hour deals etc. While the purchase price hasn’t been reported, UpNext raised $500,000 in 2011.

For Amazon, the acquisition represents a dive back into the mapping and directory wars it abandoned several years ago when it pulled the plug on its A9 directory. We expect UpNext to be integrated into Kindle Fires and other mobile media; and to leverage the map and directory capabilities for Amazon ad sales, Amazon Offers, and small business support. We also expect it to compete generally with Apple and Google, who are pursuing their own paths in local maps and directories.

We’ve been following UpNext since its inception in 1997. At that time, co-founder Danny Moon launched it with several high school friends as a project in his Entrepreneurs class at Columbia Business School.

I noted that the maps/directories were “cool, but unless you want to torture yourself, you’ll probably want to use a 3D Virtual Cityscape for less than 15 percent of your local lookups. Watching the innovation in the space, however, is thrilling. The applications are already fun, and getting more useful all the time.” The experience, of course, is likely much better today.


source: Addictive Tips

Google Integrates Zagat into rollout of Google+ Local

Zagat is Google’s great equalizer against Yelp. Google has now demonstrated why it paid $151 Million for Zagat last September by including Zagat, which formerly cost $4.95 a month (or $24.95 per year), as part of its new rollout of Google+ Local. The newly branded service replaces Google Places.

As a result of the integration, which will also feed into Google search results and maps, Google+ users will now be able to see reviews from their friends (and “acquaintances”) when they are looking up local information

While Zagat is known mostly for its 30 point restaurant reviews – more nuanced (and time consuming) than Yelp’s five star system — it now uses the same 30 point platform for 13 categories. More than 100 cities are currently served by Zagat. Outside of the restaurant space, Zagat had previously licensed its system to companies such as Anthem Blue Cross for medical reviews.

At ILM West last December, Head of Local Consumer Marketing Jeff Aguero said “the local experience is mostly disconnected. It is not consistent across user experience,” whether people are engaged in researching, finding, experiencing, reviewing, or sharing. Google’s goals are ultimately to “get more local searches, more customers, more reviews, better content, higher engagement, and more businesses online.”