Google Releases Brilliant (& Creepy) New Feature to Crowd Source Business Photos

Local Guides will be able to have photos that they are taking of local businesses “automagically matched” and added to the business listings from their Google Photos collection. The feature, first released on Android but soon available on iOS, only requires you to “turn on the back up and location features in Google Photos to have your photos of places appear in the Contribute tab of Google Maps.”

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When Google Photos was introduced a year ago I noted in my article Google Photos- A Visual Graph of People, Places and Things. Can It Become Their “Everything Graph”?Almost every photo these days comes geotagged so Google knows, at least within a 100 feet or so of where it was taken. They don’t yet auto assign a specific [business] location but they show incredible accuracy in auto assigning the photos to a city level. I assume that Google has more granular insights but has not yet turned them loose for fear of a privacy backlash.

So much for that fear.

Google Photos is one of those brilliant tools that shows Google at its very best and its very creepiest with its use of AI, machine learning and the ability to dig deep into your phone to surface additional details about businesses that you are frequenting.

And now with a little gamefication (Local Guide points), the offer of some free storage and some very sophisticated technology Google has unleashed one of the worlds most amazing geo-photo crowd sourcing projects ever.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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9 thoughts on “Google Releases Brilliant (& Creepy) New Feature to Crowd Source Business Photos”

  1. This has been active on Android for quite some time. It’s very helpful and, although not always relevant (E.g. Pictures oft my kids that i wouldn’t want to upload), it’s unobtrusive and helpful to the general population.

  2. As it regards local guides; an smb operator had a maps problem, I did a user edit (ie moved the pin) and within 10 minutes got a response stating the edit was approved. Now the guys business is appropriately set.

    Now the BIG BIG NEWS. (I’m so ecstatic). Google invited me to be a LOCAL GUIDE and told me I’m earning points.

    (somehow this makes me think about the dumb and dumber movies)

    I really don’t enjoy or plan to send google photos they can upload to the knowledge box so that there will be less website traffic.

    I seriously feel like google treats us all like lemmings. Its not worthwhile to publicize this website traffic theft with ever more expansive kb’s that simply steal traffic. Why help them?

  3. I’ve seen this on Android as well. You have to explicitly agree to make the suggested photos public, and you can pick and choose from the images. I actually find it helpful, because if I do share a photo, it’s usually not the same day I visited the business, so that helps me find it.

  4. @Peggy K
    I have heard that it existed for a while…alhtough I can’t find it documented anwhere.

    I don’t have an Android device to easily test so thanks for the input…

  5. Can these images be used by business on their own websites? I see that you can share or embed these images, I’m confused about usage rights…

    1. @Noah
      The rights to the photos are actually in the name of the photographer…. so you would technically need permission from them. That being said, like reviews, no one is looking.

  6. Mr. Blumenthal,

    Seeing as Google Local Guides is automatically matching and adding photos to google listings, do you believe as a whole Google is heading towards a decentralized local listings management, wherein users (such as reviewers on Local Guides) are given considerably more authority than those who manage such listings through GMB? Some quirks in the local knowledge panel have raised eyebrows among my colleagues that the amount of control given to managers is being thrown to the wayside.


    1. @Jake
      First things first. My father was Mr Blumenthal. I am Mike. Now that we have that out of the way….and I am getting younger every day. In fact soon I will return to diapers.

      Google has always multi sourced data for local listings. The “owner” of the listing is an owner in name only and is but one more data source. If Google finds “more authoritative” data “someplace” they will override your data with their “more authoritative data”…. this has always been the case and likely always will be…

      Over time, there has been some shift in the priority and trust of the data source. So Local Guides are given some trust but not quite as much as a business owner… UNLESS Google trusts them more at that moment. IE the Guide reports a business closed… Google might trust that as the busines, if closed might not report it.

      So to answer your question I think Google will always look to 1)access high quality data 2)Do it cheaply and 3)externalize as many costs as they can. So for example we know that they are testing getting data for the GMB directlhy from rich snippets on the website… very cheap. We know that they are looking for “attributes” like whether a restaurant is for families from Local Guides… So the answer is yes, no maybe so. Wherever they can get it the cheapest with the highest trust they will grab it.

      What that says to the business is: Be sure that your data is accurate across your website, the internet and Google.

      Then Google will only see and approve one set of data and the knowledge panel will be accurate.

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