Online maps have found their way to become the centerpiece of local search, taking over as the de facto local products of all major search engines. But what else is in store for online and mobile maps as a tool to find what you're looking for locally? And what is the future of 3D mapping to move beyond static search results and enter into an immersive experience as the primary venue for local searches, product research, social networking and travel.
Moderator: Michael Boland, Analyst, The Kelsey Group
Speakers: Jeremy Kreitler, Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Maps, Ian White, CEO, Urban Mapping, Jim Schoonmaker, CEO, Everyscape, Ziya Genceren, LiveSearch Maps Product Manager, Microsoft, Gary Price, Director of Online Information Resources, Ask.com
Gary Price is the first to speak on the topic, he emphasizes the importance of local and explains why it is so. It is so because, local is more than maps and business listings, its not always where you live, drive, "hang out" and in fact, local is potentially more important other places, away from home turf. He asks the audience to think about "local" and Chicago for those attending the conference.
Now the question arises whether is this only meant for the geeks or the masses,depends on whether the user get better answers, is it user friendly, or if it offers a value proposition meaning would they save time and effort.
Then he takes the audience on the tour of what Ask.com is doing in this direction. The Ask Mobile GPS (with Sprint), offers lifestyle application combining evite, CitySearch, directions (spoken directions), etc. in addition to searching geo-location. The Ask Maps, can give you walking and driving directions, aerial imagery, drag and move with dynamic recalculation, you can highlight new locations to map with simple one-click and without much typing. Ask Mobile lets you see maps with visual cues, you get driving & walking directions and satellite imagery. Where as with AskCity you can conduct local searches, buy tickets, get movie info, reviews, restaurant reservations, etc.
The next one to speak is Ziya, and describes that many think local search is just YellowPages but it's more than that, it's search about any location or geographic property. The local search is about two touchpoints, a map is basically a canvas and an enriched map allows you access to more information as with the case of 3d mapping by Microsoft.
Ian suggests that as far as local search is concerned that IP targeting is bad, but for national targeting it's quite good and accurate.
It's Jeremy Kreitler who makes an entry next, he has some statistics about the way users search these days over 60% Internet user do a local search, and 41% of these are around the searcher's home location. The reach of the maps is about 88% reach on the Internet. Maps he says offer a visual means to structure varied info. The trend towards local search is on the rise along with social media, local news, etc.