One of the most consistent digital marketing trends today is the growth of large search engines and mobile providers finding ways to garner the attention and loyalty of connected customers. With the end-all-be-all of Mobile, Apple and Google in particular have pulled their weight to divide users between searching through apps and mobile browsers(respectively), and even more recently---through maps. The creative approach that both of these maps providers are taking is digging up valuable data for users like never before. And for brands, that means that the need for accurate and consistent location data just got even more important.
A Short History of Maps
Trailing back to the hey days of desktop mapping in 2005, the conversation once circulated around two of the bigger giants at the time: Yahoo and Mapquest. At one point, Yahoo had become one of the most heavily used services on the Internet with its SmartView feature that broke down addresses, categories and areas of services. These were the inklings of user value that set the precedent for other nascent search providers. At that time, MapQuest’s General Manager Tommy McGloin made a fair point in evaluating quality over quantity with respect to value.
"It's probably true that Yahoo has added more features, but adding more features doesn't always mean more customer adoption," McGloin said.
Now, user value has shifted from Desktop to Mobile, and more mobile-centric maps providers joined and have raced ahead of Mapquest and Yahoo to drive user value.
According to Programmable Web, today’s top mapping APIs include Google, Apple, Bing and Foursquare. These mapping APIs, especially Google and Apple have historically driven a variety of social and review channels and reached connected users at all points of the customer journey.
Apple Maps vs Google Maps
In 2012, Apple dropped Google Maps as the default navigation for iOS and replace it with its own service, Apple Maps. Over time, data accuracy became the main point of focus for Apple Maps and now has crowdsourced more consistent and updated information into its current iOS9. Now, it’s rumored that Apple maps is used three times more often than its “next competitor,” Google Maps, using a “Nearby” feature to find gas, parking, restaurants and more.
With Google Maps developing strategies such as powering offline search and integrating gas price and busy hours to ensure that even if users are operating on iOS, they are gaining more valuable information on Google Maps than on Apple Maps. In December of 2015, Google shifted its focus with desktop and mobile versions of Plus, extracting all location value and moving it into the Maps interface. Now, the question what should brands be doing to keep up with this continuous play between Apple and Google?
Brands Can Win this Value Battle
It’s 2016, brands need to be at the forefront of it all. These changes with mapping providers allow brands the opportunity to keep consumer intent at the top of the list and anticipate the needs of mobile customers. Apple and Google maps will continue to one-up each other in hopes of gaining user trust but if your brand is not even being recognized with reputable publishers in the first place, users will take that as a chance to blame your brand for not caring about or understanding them. Half of mobile users visit a store within a day of a local search, and your brand’s inability to provide accurate location data to these providers will leave customers far from your location or worse---purchasing from the competition.
The solution lies within the problem-- by noting the valuable information Apple and Google are beginning to integrate, a brand’s opportunity to syndicate this information becomes even greater. From basic NAP (name, address and phone) to hours of operation, menu, reviews or ratings, the more local data you can provide, the better. If you are currently syndicating to maps providers, evaluate the quality of your data and use this analysis to gauge what else can relieve frictions on the customer journey. Much like in the haydays of online mapping, it’s not about added features---it’s about understanding what is valuable to consumers.
If you aren’t syndicating your location data, scan your brand to evaluate your data quality. If you are, check out Brandify’s extensive network of syndication partners to give your data maximum user reach.