Local News Roundup: Google Shuts Down LBRR, G-Maps’ Double Coverage, Yelp Updates iPhone App & Yellow Pages
Think of this post as a SearchBiz for Local, Maps & Mobile today; there was enough news to do a bit of a roundup. First up is Google’s announcement that it has dramatically expanded (“doubled”) the coverage available via StreetView, including many new states such as Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The […]
Think of this post as a SearchBiz for Local, Maps & Mobile today; there was enough news to do a bit of a roundup. First up is Google’s announcement that it has dramatically expanded (“doubled”) the coverage available via StreetView, including many new states such as Maine, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The Google LatLong Blog in a post entitled, “Street View: The year in review and what’s new,” shows before and after images of the coverage area (re the “double coverage” roll out):
Google Maps Mania also reviews the year of Google Maps launches, upgrades and enhancements.
This is the program which offered individuals cash in exchange for visiting local businesses, getting their contact details and other business data, taking photos, and then submitting them to Google for inclusion into Google Maps. These “foot soldiers” were also tasked with promoting Google AdWords and other Google products to the small business owners. The program launched in August 2007 and offered $2 per business submission, and an extra $8 if the business owner followed through and verified the data submitted to Google in the Google Maps Local Business Center.
A Google spokesperson offered this statement when I asked for confirmation that the program was closing its doors:
On December 31, 2008, we will end the Google Local Business Referrals program, which was one of many Google Labs initiatives that we had developed as part of our ongoing commitment to experimentation and testing new ways to help businesses establish a presence online.
Many relationships have been built as a result of Google Local Business Referrals, and local connections between representatives and businesses have been forged that we hope will continue. However, the program will conclude at the end of the year as part of our effort to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business.
Matt thinks that there wasn’t enough financial incentive here for the program to be sustainable. There were perhaps a number of challenges associated with the LBRR. I also think that Google decided that it would rely primarily on reseller partners, like newspapers and yellow pages publishers, to be its local sales channel instead of developing a pseudo channel.
Traditional media publishers and Google are often cast as “frenemies” or, worse, “froes.” In one such article, about Italian directory company Seat Pagine Gialle, financial analysts in the EU are wondering how directory companies will compete with Google:
Once valued for their strong cash flows and even able to pay generous dividends, Europe’s directories firms now look outmoded in the face of Internet competition, while heavy debt burdens restrict any real efforts to modernize, given credit conditions.
Internet giant Google and other online outlets can offer more flexible and far cheaper advertising than print media. Google also offers free listings linked to its popular maps to the small businesses on which directories depend.
Google frenemy UK directory publisher Yell introduced a new look for its Yell.com homepage, today as well as some passive personalization elements.
And, finally, Yelp introduced a new version of its iPhone app that allows users to upload photos from the iPhone’s camera to the site.
Anyone in the local segment — publishers, content providers, etc. — that isn’t already involved with mobile or actively thinking about it is in danger of being left behind. More concretely, mobile users also emerge as great sources of local content for local or travel sites online (images, video, text/reviews). Indeed, with all the passive geotagging and the ability of mobile users to generate content directly from their phones “on the go” we’re likely to see an exponential increase in user-generated content tied to place.