Tag Archives: Google Maps

‘Garage Sales Tracker’ Teams with Community Paper Sites

There was a time when it looked like eBay would replace garage sales – or the Goodwill box. But putting things up for sale was probably too much work. In fact, garage sale postings in 2009 were up 80 percent on Craigslist last year.

Craigslist, Oodle and PennySaver have been among the leaders in online listings. Now add Garage Sales Tracker to the list. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., the start-up provides a full platform for local media companies, including TV stations and community newspapers.

Launched in January 2009, Garage Sales Tracker posts sales locations on an embedded Google Map, and includes useful tips for sellers (“have plenty of single dollar bills on hand”). It also provides related information about local consignment shops, and allows users to filter their search by item or geographic location. Garage Sales Tracker can be white labeled by the media partners

It is also a destination site in its own right, selling ads to related categories, including self storage (U-Store-It) and foreclosure listings (RealtyTrac). We’ve seen other self storage companies on the local media sites. Mortgage brokers are also envisioned.The site also earns revenue from featured listings. Otherwise, listings are free.

Mobile also a significant role in the site’s development. Garage Sales Tracker currently has an iPhone app, which helps garage sale shoppers on-the-go. An Android app is currently in development.

Localeze ‘Confidence Scores’ Addresses SMB Spam

There’s too much “noise” with SMB information, and no one knows which businesses have up-to-date and fully populated information. Many SMBs, for instance, will have two or more sets of profiles, featuring different types of information. Think, for instance, of all the directory sites asking SMBs to “claim” their listing. The frequent result is a mish-mash that doesn’t help the search engines, or consumers, and even may mislead them.

Now Localeze, a big 3 listings provider, alongside InfoUSA and Acxiom, has developed a standardized format that reports “confidence scores” for 500,000 SMB listings under management. It hopes, of course, to gain many more.

As managers of hundreds of listing accounts for large and regional chains (among other things), CEO Jeff Beard and Business Development guy Gib Olander know first-hand how the mess builds up. What happens is that businesses don’t tend to change their information when they add or delete a location, or features, or services. That point is especially driven home with so many recently vacated storefronts.

Some of the mess is also caused by SMBs gaming the system. For instance, a horde of locksmiths in Manhattan have entered multiple entries in a manner that has overwhelmed their entries on Google Maps. “Everyone is a publisher,” says Olander. “There are hundreds of thousands of Locksmith spams on Google Maps.”

The confidence scores are designed to quell the problem by providing a unique finger print for every business. The scores are meant to gives uses more to go on than what they currently have: simple alphabetical listings, and how far away they are located.

The scores go from 0-100 percent, and are based on reconciling the information that it sees from multiple profiles. It standardizes the info,deletes multiple entries, and adds criteria such as recent updates, etc.

A company that hasn’t changed any information for eight months won’t be scored as highly as a company that constantly maintains the listing. “Time and frequency are very important,” says Olander. Most active businesses change at least some of their information every month.

Not every Localeze affiliate will use the scores. But Beard says that their development shows his company’s evolution from a “simple database shop.” The company is now involved in a much broader part of the marketing mix, he says.

Wedding Mapper Provides Customized Maps, Targeted Ads

Selling advertising on customized Google Maps is becoming increasingly common, with agencies such as LAT49 showing the way. Ads have been sold on maps for hiking, jogging trails, local transit and other categories.

Now Wedding Mapper is taking the same concept to weddings, where it allows couples to map out a wedding trail of airports, receptions, hotels and rehearsal dinners. The free maps can be emailed, downloaded to mobile phones, printed out or posted on websites.

Wedding Mapper, which grew out of Community Walk.com, a non-specific map builder, was launched in January 2007. It has already produced 100,000 maps, and is likely to climb further as it gets a bigger piece of the wedding market, which sees 2.2 million couples married every year, per The Wedding Report.

Founder Jared Cosulich tells us that the maps are configured on a hyper-local basis for 10,000 communities in the U.S. and abroad, and advertisers can target any of those communities, with the average spend roughly $20. About a thousand advertisers have tried the service out. He adds that the micro-targeting figures to be especially compelling for exurban and rural communities that are normally left out of wedding-related media (but I might question that: small town folk tend to know who vendors that they want to use).

Cosulich notes that one of the most compelling things about the service is that maps have quite a long tail. Here’s why: The five person, San Francisco-based crew have created a User Generated directory of 140,000 wedding vendors that can be used to pre-populate map locations.

The directory is given extra context by adding user reviews from businesses that have been mapped. More than 50,000 reviews have been entered so far.

I built a couple of maps for fun, one for my current town (Carlsbad, CA) and one for my college town (Bronxville, NY). I found that they’re easy-to-launch, wisely password protected, and the categories are intuitive and well thought out.

But the map experience is far from perfect. While the maps will surely get your guests around town, the User Generated directory is far from comprehensive. Users that rely on it would find reception locations, churches and bars and airports many towns and miles (and scrolls) away from optimum locations.

Trust me, when you’re getting married at The Crossings in Carlsbad, you probably don’t want to stay in Dana Point, 30 miles up I-5. There are dozens of hotels and resorts in between. But I bet that will get better when the site relaunches this Sunday.

MetroSeeQ Launches: ‘Search Engine for Promotions’ (via Google Maps)

Consumers looking to map out a Saturday morning errand run, or a Saturday night bar-hop – and find out about any special offers along the way—can now do so easily via MetroSeeq, a Portland, OR startup by Intel-vet Kevin Chen.The site was launched two weeks ago, and has already had 40,000 visitors.

Chen said he was motivated to build the service after moving to four cities in three years and never really knowing what was out there, location- wise. (I know the feeling). “I eat at Subway a lot,” he says.

What he’s done is take the API from Google Maps, sort local listings by category (i.e. Japanese Restaurants, Indian Restaurants) and overlay promotions from a variety of promotions services, including Entertainment.com, Restaurant.com and Passport Unlimited.com.

One of the service’s features is that it does “progressive searches,” so that users who have already mapped themselves over to Horton Plaza can find something in the vicinity instead of starting back at the beginning. Another feature is the use of a spinwheel to randomly highlight cuisines of the day and other applications to users who are just browsing. The spinwheel is also deployed to highlight “Top Seeqs” based on what gets searched for the most. The service is also beginning to integrate reviews from Yelp.

Several additional features are planned. For instance, Chen expects to similarly highlight local news, events and services. Chen notes that Google’s maps can be customized by users for any purpose (i.e. personal jogging routes).

The service is currently being demoed as a destination site, but it is also being provided to publishers on a white label, affiliate marketing basis While Chen has started with restaurants, he emphasizes that the service can be sorted by any category. In fact, he sees a great deal of potential in apartments.