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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])
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.
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."
On a more serious note, I think businesses are highly localized that I don't find a Placerank formula very scalable.
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.
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.
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.
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?
G said it wasn't ready for release yet. But it seems like it might fit with place rank pretty well.
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.