In this week’s update, read about Google’s search trends showing a need for connectedness; Foursquare’s new accreditation; a primer in GMB attributes; wildfire boundaries in Google Maps; Snapchat for local businesses; and new GMB metrics in Search.
Google search trends show a need for connectedness during the pandemic
Searches for physical comfort and human connectedness have been trending over the last few months, according to data from Google Trends analyzed by the digital agency Clear. Alongside these trends, users are focused on finding ways to conduct normal activities while socially distancing. Unsurprisingly, searches for virtual meetings, virtual dating, virtual church services, and homeschooling have surged.
Searches for “virtual meetings,” courtesy Google Trends
Leisure pastimes like puzzles, pub quizzes, picnics, and home workouts have also seen large increases in user interest, as have comforting diversions like sourdough bread recipes, puppies, and hot tubs. The study suggests that businesses pay attention to what consumers are focused on -- for instance, by making sure to provide virtual versions of their services wherever possible, or by focusing their offerings on fulfilling consumers’ desire for diversion and comfort.
Foursquare location data accredited by Media Rating Council
Foursquare has been accredited by the Media Rating Council for “its ability to estimate and validate real-world visits.” In a writeup on the announcement in Search Engine Land, Greg Sterling notes that the accuracy and validity of location data used in an advertising and attribution context has been a big issue for several years. Back in 2017, the Media Rating Council issued its Location-Based Advertising Measurement Guidelines, intended as a means of validating the accuracy of data from location platforms. Foursquare is the first company to be accredited under the guidelines.
The announcement cites the accuracy of Foursquare's Visits offering. After its acquisition of location intelligence company Factual, Foursquare has also begun combining online and offline data in order to help marketers build custom audiences based on their online interests and offline visitation habits.
Certification by the MRC is likely to be an important competitive differentiator amongst location companies who are vying to establish a reputation for accuracy and reliability in a market that often questions their qualifications.
“Challenges marketers face in measuring outcomes of programs using location-based data,” courtesy Search Engine Land
A primer on GMB attributes
Google My Business Product Expert Ben Fisher has published a new guide to GMB attributes on the Bright Local blog. Fisher explains the difference between subjective attributes, such as “Fast service,” which can only be assigned by Google users, and factual attributes, such as “Outdoor seating,” which can be assigned both by Google users and by the business owner or manager. Factual attributes are managed by the business within the Google My Business dashboard, the GMB API, or the GMB Android app. Fisher notes that business owners cannot edit attributes using the GMB app for iPhone.
Some attributes, such as “Pickup” and “Curbside delivery,” get prominent placement in GMB business profiles, with a red X indicating an attribute is not available and a green check indicating the attribute is available. During the pandemic, Google has added many attributes, often at the suggestion of the GMB community, including attributes for dine-in, pickup, and delivery for restaurants, pickup and delivery for retail stores, and online services for many verticals including healthcare.
Google Maps shows near real-time wildfire boundaries
Due to widespread concern about wildfires in California, Google has just launched an update to Google Maps that lets users throughout the U.S. search for near real-time information about wildfires. Users can search for nearby wildfires as well as specific wildfires by name; Google will display the latest information including a map showing the current boundaries of the fire in question. Google’s data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is updated hourly. The company has plans to expand this functionality to countries outside the U.S.
Images courtesy Google
Snapchat expands promotional opportunities for local businesses
As I’ve discussed in this space previously, Snapchat recently upgraded its Snap Map feature, in part to make it easier for the app’s users to discover and make contact with nearby businesses. Recently, Street Fight’s Mike Boland offered an update on Snapchat’s foray into local search, noting that Foursquare supplies the business listing data that makes it possible for businesses to claim their listings.
Businesses can find the new “Promote Local Place” feature within Snapchat’s Ads Manager. Businesses who enter a URL for their Snapchat profile will trigger a process whereby Snapchat will crawl the business website looking for photos to use in promotions. Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates are amongst Snapchat’s initial launch partners.
New GMB metrics display in inline mode
In connection with the updated display of GMB dashboard functionality in Search and Maps, which I touched on last week, Sterling Sky’s Colan Neilsen has noticed that the GMB data displayed in the new interface differs somewhat from the data displayed in the GMB dashboard. In particular, the new Search display allows business owners and managers to see performance metrics for as much as six months at a time, with build-in year-over-year comparisons.
To get to the new metrics, users should search for a business profile they manage, then click Promote, then click Performance. A screenshot is shown below for a business I manage, with data indicating that all interactions for July and August 2020, including calls and messages, are up 27.5% from the same period last year.