How Will Retailers Leverage Google Maps?

Discussion
May 22, 2013

The potential for mapping services to influence consumer purchases was on full display last week at Google’s annual I/O developers conference as the technology giant introduced the biggest redesign of Google Maps since its introduction in 2005.

For retailers, the advances seem to greatly enhance localized marketing efforts. The nameless pins on the former Google Maps version are being replaced with search results that pop up with detailed information. These may include ads or coupons from nearby businesses.

But its real-time, customized targeting that perhaps holds the greatest promise. Clicking on Maps highlights places the individual frequently visits and also makes recommendations for places he or she may enjoy based on the search request. The callouts are drawn from information across all of Google’s services — including the individual’s search and Maps history, Google Plus posts and G-mail — as well as outside information relevant to the search.

[Image: Google Maps]

Filters also allow for search results that incorporate recommendations from friends. Clicking on a sandwich in a box, for example, may show reviews from Zagat and your friends.

More impressively, when users visit a new city, Google will recommend places to go based on their preferences and those of people with similar tastes. The goal is to present the most relevant information to each user on each search.

"Everybody gets their own map, every time," Jonah Jones, the lead designer for the new Google Maps, told The New York Times.

Beyond customization, the other big change is appearance. Google Earth will be incorporated in the online version of Google Maps. Viewers will be able to zoom in and explore a city’s landmarks or local haunts in 3-D. Even further, people can also view the inside of popular attractions and local businesses using photos people upload to its Panoramio and Picasa photo service.

"We can take advantage of all the work you do," Yatin Chawathe, engineering director for Google Maps Web platform, told Techcrunch. "It’s a shared responsibility."

What role will online mapping services play in brand and retail marketing? How should retailers be preparing to capitalize on increasingly sophisticated maps?

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11 Comments on "How Will Retailers Leverage Google Maps?"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

If recommendations are based on past behavior and actions of friends, this points to the need for retailers and brands to have a strong, ongoing presence in social media. Retail and brand websites should also be created with an eye towards boosting their presence in Google search. Finally, retailers should make every effort to appear on the maps, with as much information about their business as allowed.

Debbie Hauss
BrainTrust

With more emphasis on social recommendations, it’s obvious that retailers need to pick up the pace with their involvement in social channels in order to collect more loyal followers, encourage more recommendations, and motivate consumers to share positive reviews. This will translate to more highlights on the new Google Map app.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Online mapping is a bit of a misnomer: they’re really map based information hubs. Essentially, the map/geo-locating information is the foundation for Google to provide a nexus of the informational services it has acquired/developed. Combining things like search, Zagat reviews, G+, and advertising streams gives the searcher a wealth of related information around the topic they seek. It’s all good except that it is essentially Google’s eye view of the world and despite all the do-good spin, is based on their revenue model.

So for businesses that work well within Google’s rules and technologies, there may be some added benefit here, for others that don’t want their business logic predicated on Google’s ad revenue, competitors may get the best of them.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

People are impressionable. While they’re wondering what to eat, where to go, and what to buy, Google has figured out a way to preemptively cajole them into visiting selected venues based upon what they believe to be their own “special” data analysis. Brilliant! This is an exciting feature that retailers and marketers should be ecstatic to exploit employ.

In order to capitalize on these features, retailers should be preparing databases and technologies to take advantage of upgrades like upcoming events and coupon-attaching supported in the map, as well as sprucing up storefronts and interiors for the Google Earth “profile” shots (think profile avatars for stores and restaurants).

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
4 years 5 months ago

This is a huge opportunity for any establishment vying for a consumer’s attention. Retailers, restaurants, attractions, etc., consumers are going to quickly pick up on the value of Google’s new features thanks to their ability to make things easy, fun and useful. With consumer adoption high, it will be important to get on board early and find ways to optimize the solution.

The platform also sounds like a tremendous opportunity for targeted ads. The right ad to the right person at the right time and now, in the right place.

What will be most interesting is how retailers, ad agencies and others measure the impact of this new feature. Certainly Google will be, since the success will greatly impact the amount they can charge for ads.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Folks, I just don’t see Google maps as a marketing thing unless Google intends to muck up their maps app with coupons. I certainly hope not!

The customer has to already be visiting the retail location and sharing with friends for the retailer to be in the mix. My advice to retailers is to participate more in check-in apps and find ways to encourage customers to share with friends across social sites.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Similar to pay-per-click ads showing up when a consumer does a Google search, the retailer now has another channel to get very defined target marketing and advertising. Google maps can combine geographical location with the consumer’s recent searches and purchases to create a very customized and targeted offering to the consumer.

People have asked how Google can monetize “free” programs like Google Maps. Well, now you know. And we have just scratched the surface of what is to come.

Ben Carcio
Guest
Ben Carcio
4 years 5 months ago

For a manufacturing brand, presenting consumers with a clear path to their product is crucial for driving in-store sales. On the web, the Google map is a crucial cog in this process and Google is doing the right thing by investing in this.

AmolRatna Srivastav
Guest
AmolRatna Srivastav
4 years 5 months ago

This will be one more medium of reaching out to customers and in some way guiding them to stores. One more step towards personalization. It’s time to be in Google’s good book—again!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Google’s technology continues to impress me. As a user of Google Maps, I think both retailers and CPG brands would be remiss to not take full advantage of this enhancement. Shoppers of all ages leverage this tool to find nearby businesses for their immediate needs. The leverage is really in favor of small businesses since the presence of any size business can have the same impact as the largest businesses.

Mark Hil
Guest
Mark Hil
4 years 4 months ago

To fully capitalize on this trend, retailers need to be prepared to publish accurate product availability by location, so that the shopper can decide that it’s worth the trip. No value in generating foot traffic that ends with the customer walking out empty-handed.

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