There’s already been considerable discussion of the passing of the maps traffic crown from MapQuest to Google Maps. Hitwise, comScore and Compete all show Google Maps as the traffic leader in the category. One could argue with relative confidence that the long-anticipated development is a consequence of two things: Google’s ability to refer traffic to its own property and regular innovation at Google Maps with features like Street View, among others.
According to a new post on the Hitwise blog, despite Google’s traffic advantage, MapQuest retains brand strength and has greater engagement than Google Maps:
While the share of visits is higher for Google Maps, the average visit time on MapQuest remained higher at 10 minutes and 51 seconds as compared to 7 minutes and 24 seconds on Google Maps. Google is the top referral sources for both websites, but is considerably higher for Google Maps with 61% last week while the share of visits referred to MapQuest was 25%.
Overall traffic to the maps category is down (probably because travel is off in the recession) but MapQuest’s brand remains fairly strong, with people using Google to navigate directly to the site:
The case still remains that MapQuest is a strong brand and is the leading search term driving traffic to the Maps category, but there appears to be some erosion that has taken place over time. The share of traffic from the search term ‘mapquest’ (which represents 32% of the clicks driving traffic to MapQuest)
There are probably a number of takeaways and lessons here. MapQuest obviously had no control over Google’s removal, in early 2007, of direct links to competitors’ mapping sites. But MapQuest’s complacency and general failure to keep pace with competitive product development until relatively recently certainly hurt the site.
Now the question becomes: what if anything can MapQuest do to regain it’s crown? Put another way, will Tim Armstrong focus any attention and love on the MapQuest brand? — still one of AOL’s most important properties.