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Mapping: How Important?

 2:41 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

How important is mapping to local search for you guys? I'm putting together a priority list for the new year.

I know, I know, you have to have a mapping component, because Google and Yahoo! do.

But do you really?

When you think about it, most people know their way around their own towns.

On a scale of 1 (useless) to 10 (essential), where would you rank it.

What are most local search mapping products missing at this point?

I know that I find myself complaining of the lack of a decent mobile interface (hint: traditional maps on a mobile phone suck and is a fairly moronic idea), and I'd probably rate the importance of the maps about a 6.



 2:54 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I want my maps on local search. Yea, I know my way around my own town - but, sometimes, you need one.

Example: There will be two of a franchise on the same road - only thing different is that one is at 1234 main street and the other is at 4567 main street - I have no idea which set of numbers means the one near anytown road - so, I click the map and can see for myself.

Example: There is a road I've never heard of that a store is on. So, I click the map and can easily see where it's at.

Example: Sometimes stores are on main street as far as I'm concerned, but their little driveway is actually called somewhere street and they are listed in the local search engine that way. Well, since they're store is the only one on somewhere street, I'm likely to not have heard of it or know in my head where it's at. By using the map, I can see that its the same store I "believe" to be on main street.

So, those would be a few of my reasons. As a consumer using local search, I want the ability - actually, I'm going to "demand it" by choosing engines that provide them - to see a map if I choose to.


 2:56 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Almost forgot:

>>>>On a scale of 1 (useless) to 10 (essential), where would you rank it.


>>>>What are most local search mapping products missing at this point?

I'm not really looking for "super features" in the maps. Of the ones I've seen being used by local engines, Yahoo is the one I like the best map wise.


 3:47 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

When you think about it, most people know their way around their own towns.

Locals may know their way around the place, but tourists may not.


 3:57 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh, I agree Ken. I'm certainly going to implement mapping.

My question was more of to gauge how important it is to people (how prominent on the interface should it appear, for example?), and what features are missing from the current engines that folks would like to see.


 5:28 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with Rae. Maps are critical to effective local search utilities.

Mapquest is amongst the top local search properties on the Internet. Media Metrix has MapQuest.com frequently ranked as the #1 directory site. They currently record over 40 million *unique users* per month.

"MapQuest.com is also evolving from the basis of maps to include 'Find It' utilities to users. With over 1,500 business partners, they have long-term staying power.

As for mapping, it is a necessity. Not keyhole type mapping, but the kind that enables proximity comparisons, and the kind that you can print out and take with you in your car:/

It doesn't have to take up the user interface, but it should be a clickable options in the results interface.


 5:37 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

the kind that you can print out and take with you in your car:/

Yep. Apparently, 25 mil maps printed each month on mapquest.



 5:45 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

UPS has a feature where their store locations are mapped out visually. Be nice if you could have an option to do that for a search result. Say you type "pizza" for your location. Search result appears, but then you map it visually as an option.

The other feature I don't see is a way to map an itinerary locally. For going to multiple yard sales, or planning out your errands for the day, type of thing.


 6:16 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>How prominent...

Easy enough to see, but not so prominent that it detracts from the page.

>> itinerary ...

Itinerary mapping would be great. If I search for "widget dealers" and the map showed the locations of all widget dealers in the area and the best route between, that would be great.


Would having landmark notes appearing on maps help?


 6:43 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Would having landmark notes appearing on maps help?

Yes, and in the listing information too. Imagine stuff like:

"Across the street from Dunkin Dounts in the mini-mall"


"Next to Arby's"

Landmark location is a really big deal, IMHO. How many times have you almost hit someone trying to look for your local DMV by street address? Fast food restaurants and other franchises are great landmarks for reference...

Itinerary Mapping: Good idea guys, thanks. I've got a couple of thoughts on how to make this happen.


 6:56 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think mapping is probably a must if you are appealing to consumers. They expect it.

There are also reasons for B2B websites to have maps.

For consumers, I would agree with everyone that it is about an 8.

For B2B websites I would probably go to a 5 or 6.


 3:31 am on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Paul Levine, Yahoo's general manager of local services. "Maps are a critical part of our local strategy."

Analysts and MapQuest executives point out that digital mapping is a service for which brand loyalty is especially pronounced. When it comes to familiarity, frequency of use and allegiance to one site, consumers surveyed by Kelsey Group and BizRate.com in August listed online maps first, ahead of search engines, phone directories and other online services.

A Worthy LA Times Article: Today 1/10/05: Overtaking MapQuest a Challenge for Yahoo [latimes.com]


 3:29 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Looks like LA Times requires registration. You can view the article here [kelseygroup.com]:


 3:46 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)



 4:03 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Someone planning a date can not only find driving directions to a movie theater but also see the closest parking lot, nearby restaurants (organized by cuisine) and florists, and even an ATM to pay for the meal all overlaid on the map.

I gotta admit that that is cool - and smart as hell.

Interesting comments on mapquest's brand loyalty. I've been a mapquest user for years and to be honest, when I need a map, I automatically hit them. I've never even looked to see if there was anything better.

He and other analysts, however, warn that the wild card in the digital-mapping fight may be Google

It is a neat feature, but I think the key is going to be getting the whole package (good mapping, good local search results, the ability for the engine/service to almost "think" for the user). I think Yahoo is way ahead in that respect for the moment.

Nice article Chicago - thanks for the link.


 2:38 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

"What are most local search mapping products missing at this point?"

What I've noted as far as replies to this question from your topic are mentions of MapQuest. Bear in mind, MapQuest is a WebSite, not a map rendering engine. IMHO you should look into adding a GIS to the backend of your website. With your own GIS you can use a very very important capability of GIS:

o The ability to display information that is geographically important in LAYERS

What are layers? "Layers" are synonymous with perspectives; for example, I can look at a geographical area from a number of different perspectives: in terms of the roads that run through an area, the rivers, the forested lands, etc. Now, extrapolate eCommerce perspectives from those and think of a local neighborhood. I can show ATM locations, Convenience Stores, Lodging areas, etc.

Now, let's do the same thing for individual listings: If I am running a B to B local search engine, I can show listings by business name, owner, telephone contact number, etc.

So I would answer your question that MapQuest/MapBlast, etc will not offer the complete control over how you display your own data that your own GIS will buy you.


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