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Google invents PlaceRank for Google Maps
Another green bar?

 9:40 pm on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

TechCrunch article:

Google will be adding these businesses incrementally. "They are selected based on their PlaceRank," says John Hanke, VP of Google Earth, Maps, and Local. PlaceRank is like PageRank for places It tries to figure out how prominent a place is based on factors such as "references on the Web, reviews, photos," says Hanke, "how many people know about it, how long its been around."

Google has mailed about 190,000 QRCode stickers to businesses that have been marked as Favorite Places. Austin, TX example [google.com].

(PlaceRank was noted by Bill Slawski back in 2007 but this seems to be the first acknowledged use of it. Patent [appft1.uspto.gov])



 9:46 pm on Dec 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great idea. So many more applications that just maps and discounts.


 7:19 am on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

We've identified over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. as "Favorite Places on Google" based on Google users' interaction with local business listings. Each business is receiving a window decal with a unique QR code...

Eeeek. What if you are not one of the "favorite places"? What if you are a new, popular place? Can you ask for a new sticker? Can you BUY one? What if a previously favorite place suddenly is not so favorite any more? Will a man from the Goostapo come and rip off the sticker (and give a life-time ban to that business)?

Fortunately, very few phones actually have built-in scanners, and in general people do not care about scanning tags with their mobile phones.


 10:44 am on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

zett, The patent has a fairly long list of clues as to how a site can reach the status of a Favorite Place. Basically, such a site needs lots of authoritative recommendations to get noticed by the algorithm. A new place needs to become "popular" in one of the approved ways, e.g. ratings and reviews at trusted sites, forum discussions in trusted newsgroups, etc.


 12:09 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

It tries to figure out how prominent a place is based on factors such as "references on the Web, reviews, photos, how many people know about it, how long its been around."

Does this mean the Taj Mahal will get its own sticker?

On a more serious note, I think businesses are highly localized that I don't find a Placerank formula very scalable.


 12:26 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

>very few phones actually have built-in scanners

Most phones have a rudimentary camera, of some sorts, and it can be used to scan a code. I already use it on my phone. I scan a code, such as a barcode, and I can find that product online. I took that example in anallawalla's post, scanned the QR code on the screen and chose to see reviews of the location. I could then decide, based upon opinions, if it's worth a visit. Assuming the opinions are not spammed nonsense, of course.

Most smartphones will do this with the relevant software.


 1:11 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

> very few phones actually have built-in scanners

I agree with @engine that there are more and more handsets that can do it. And it's a chicken and egg situation really - if there are no QR codes then consumers won't want the feature. I think the more useful implementations there are of the tech the more it will grow - it's been pretty big in Japan for a long time.

I'm worried about this for the same reasons as @zett though - I think it will just serve to re-enforce what people like already, making it harder for newer and maybe better businesses to gain local traction.


 3:47 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

>I'm worried about this for the same reasons as @zett though

Tip of the day: Create your own code, put it in your own window.

It's the smartphone revolution that is driving the opportunity, not Google. Google are just adding the facility to their maps, which is, I agree, a bit unfair to those that don't get to join the party.


 4:04 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

The downside of PlaceRank is that one can put loads of optimizations into a business listing in GLBC and in the business's website and still be outranked by three businesses which have no website or anything else whatsoever.

Seems like Google is going just a bit overboard to reduce marketing tactic effectiveness, considering that most consumers would prefer listings which have websites, photos, videos, and more enhanced business profile information.

I'm wondering if the ~190,000 businesses which are receiving QRCode stickers might also be the same businesses that get the Landmark Icon treatment that's been introduced on Maps?


 6:21 pm on Dec 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

CueCat [en.wikipedia.org] lives!


 1:50 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

LOL! weeks' comment is the best! CueCat, it is indeed!


 3:01 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

The Cuecat was an idea ahead of its time. The mobile phone is trying to approximate it with QR Codes, but the phone browser will only be useful for a few niches. The killer product exists somewhat in hobbyist circles (mouse scanner), but when every *wireless* desktop mouse includes a URL scanner, the concept will have wider appeal.


 3:56 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is the Favorite Place URL referenced in the first post (or any other at the Google FP site) working for you, i.e. after you scan the QR code with your mobile? For me, the link goes to the home page of G Mobile.


 4:16 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

On the CNBC special about G the other night they were showing a future feature called visual search. If you wanted to know more about a place you could take a photo of it with your cell phone and G would return the info based on matching the image.

G said it wasn't ready for release yet. But it seems like it might fit with place rank pretty well.


 5:30 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

PlaceRank? Has Google nothing else to do?

Don't you think its for governments/agencies to decide how popular a place is?


 11:10 am on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Don't you think its for governments/agencies to decide how popular a place is?

Sorry, why should Governments decide? Google is using the searches made on Google Maps to find out the most popular places. Sounds fine to me.


 9:50 pm on Dec 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

"Decide" implies a conclusion, which is up to people who write algorithms and they tend to be in companies that can afford to do so. The rating companies have done it for a while, based on votes, but Google is trying to go beyond votes alone, because people tend to make time to cast negative votes, but rarely do so for positive experiences.

The patent, not surprisingly, is very turgid text and offers clues how G is looking for proxies of recommendations. Imagine, if G bought one of the big credit card companies (as an extension of G Checkout) and had access to billing data for a lot of consumer businesses. If the same card keeps turning up at a particular restaurant then the algo could conclude that it had repeat traffic, which is something that absolute traffic numbers can't show.

Why wait until G buys a credit card company? With the beta My Location service, G could certainly assign a street-level weighting factor for any part of its algos that are based on popularity, e.g. which nightclub precincts are more popular, based on the My Location-enabled phones noted there.


 2:12 pm on Dec 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

@anallawalla I'm also taken to the Google Mobile home page. Not a word about the hotel.

When I paste the URL into my desktop browser, I get a login page. After login in, I'm again taken to the Mobile home page.

Perhaps it only works for US users?


 8:32 pm on Dec 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

According to the letter I received from Google along with our "Favorite Place" barcode sticker, the distinction is made based on your local business search traffic. They included the number of clicks we've received since such-and-such date and a brief explanation of the information the barcode will return through Google.

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