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Reap the Benefits of Google Maps Before Others Crowd It

Analysts at Morgan Stanley feels that Google Maps will easily generate 1.5 billion dollar revenue by 2017. But how? Read on.

First, an interesting piece of statistics – according to Facebook Business, less than 10% customers in the US buy retail products from e-commerce sites. The rest 90% actually do it in brick-and-mortar shops after researching their wishlist products and services on their mobile phones. So if you have businesses like retail, grocery, telecommunications, restaurants or auto dealerships, location-based advertising is a must.

In other words, Google Maps will earn more and more revenue through ads placed on it. “In our view, Maps remains one of Google’s most under-monetized assets,” Morgan Stanley wrote in the note to investors.

How Google Maps Help You?

Tech Target defines Google Maps as a “Web-based service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world. In addition to conventional road maps, Google Maps offers aerial and satellite views of many places. In some cities, Google Maps offers street views comprising photographs taken from vehicles.”

Indeed, from a web-based mapping service developed and launched by Google in 2005, Google Maps has come a long way. It has revolutionised the world of digital maps and now it has more than one billion users.

Let’s check some of its key uses:

  • It is a route planner for drivers, bikers, walkers, and passengers of public transportation who want to travel from one specific location to another.
  • The API or Application Program Interface of Google Maps helps web site administrators install Google Maps into a proprietary site like a community service page, real-estate guide or location specific page.
  • Google Maps on Mobile helps drivers and motorists find locations through Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Google Street View helps users to view and navigate panoramic street view – both horizontal and vertical images of different cities around the world.
  • For astronomers, Google Maps provides images of the moon, Mars, sky and other heavenly bodies.

Why is Advertising on Google Maps Important for Your Business?

In a recent Google Performance Summit, Google revealed some interesting statistics that businesses should take notice of.

  • Around 90% of all global sales will happen in stores and not online.
  • Nearly a third of mobile searches are associated with location.
  • Location-related searches have been growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall in the past year.
  • Over a billion people now use Maps.
  • Consumers search 1.5 billion destinations every year on Google Maps.
  • Almost 84% of consumers opt for local searches.
  • Three out of every four people who search for something nearby end up visiting a store within 24 hours and 28% of those searches lead in a purchase.

What do all these data mean? If your business has a physical location and you want to grow, then it is necessary that you are visible on Google Maps. When people on the go browse for your products or services on their smartphones, they should find you. 

Promoted Pins

Google Maps will soon launch Promoted Pins — purple pins on map search results — that will pop up information on products or services if a user decides to tap them. It’s expected to be a major force in local SEO. For advertisers, this means driving more footfalls to physical stores, and for users, more options when they search for directions.

Promoted PIns on Google Maps
Promoted Pins on Google Maps

When someone types a destination into Google Maps, they’ll see the standard red pins that connect one location to another, complete with directions. Then, they’ll also see nearby local businesses highlighted in purple – with the company logos. The user then has the option to tap a purple pin to see more information on the business and products it sells.

Some Other Exciting Features to Look Out For in Google Maps

New local search ads: Advertisers can now use location extensions on their local search ads in AdWords on Google Maps for both desktop and mobile devices. These local ads include “Call” and “Directions” buttons and this way a vast number of potential consumers can be reached.

In-store promotions: There is another friendly in-store promotion feature – just below the logo on the map itself that will appear to the user as he is driving and navigation in and around the location. For instance, if you are near a Starbucks’ store, then you may see the Starbucks’ logo with the in-store promotion happening at that moment at that location – say, a $1-discount offer. When you tap on the logo, you will get to the business page at the bottom of your screen, displaying the at-the-moment offer. This feature has tremendous possibility to bring in more new customers.

Customizable business pages with Promoted Pins: If you use Promoted Pins (as mentioned above), then you can have customizable local business pages with all the basic information like address, phone number, operating hours and offers.

But What Ads Google Maps Will Show Users?

All the above features are great from advertisers’ point of view. However, there could be hundreds of stores near your location but only a few precious ad spots. How does Google know which listing is the most relevant to the searcher? Google says it is using a “variety” of signals, including:

  • Query context
  • Location
  • Search/browsing history
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Time of day
  • Demographics

So essentially, what Google Maps is doing is similar to the ad serving used on the Google Display Network. These search business ads appear on both the desktop and mobile versions of Google Maps. On mobile devices, there is the added advantage of features like as Call or Directions which make it more convenient for customers to reach you.

In this context it is to be noted that just recently, Google has introduced a new update to Google Maps in its new version 4.24 on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch where users are provided with new useful features, including the ability to order food from your favourite restaurants. This is not available for all locations at present but if your location is supported, when you look for a food joint or take-away within the app, you will now view a new “Place an Order” option in the details of the location. Clicking on the button will lead you to the website of the food delivery service provider.

How Do You Then Ensure Your Ads on Google Maps?

Location Extensions in AdWords: If you run AdWords campaigns, enable location extensions. They will allow you to enter business hours, Google reviews, and phone numbers to your listings. These will be critical when an ad is displayed in Google Maps. You’ll need to enable location extensions at the account level and also set locational bids.

‘Google My Business’: Enter your business in ‘Google My Business’. Doing this establishes your business’ formal existence and public identity with Google. Even if you’re a “virtual business” with no physical address, you should establish a presence here; if you do have a physical location, or multiple physical locations, Google provides a “dashboard” that makes editing and adding content very easy.

Add content to your business listing: If you don’t, Maps users searching for your business will see a “default” image – usually sourced from Google Street View – that doesn’t always paint a flattering picture. Seize the opportunity to provide images that drive people to your enterprise – not away from it.

Conclusion

Remember, Google searches guide consumers to 1.5 billion destinations every year. So the bottomline question: if you have a location-based business, is it “on Google Maps?” Make sure it is, because maps-oriented user interfaces are becoming as important as the traditional hierarchical list-oriented interfaces (such as SERPs) we’ve grown used to in the past 20 years.

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