All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Local Links of Interest

Yahooo Makes a New Play for Ads on Mobile Phones – Miguel Helft, NY times

Magellan Device Adds Google Local Listings – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch

Google’s Lunchtime Betting Game – Noam Cohen NY Times
This has little to do with local but is an interesting research report on the use of prediction markets within Google.

According to the report, “Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google,” which was presented Friday at the American Economic Association meeting in New Orleans, the strongest correlation in betting was found among people who sat very close to one another, trumping even friendship or other close social ties.

This is tangible evidence, the authors argue, that information is shared most easily and effectively among office neighbors, even at an Internet company where instant messaging and e-mail are generally preferred to face-to-face discussion.

What Does 2008 Have In Store For Local? Greg Sterling, SEL

Google Map’s Business Location Bulk Upload Still Not Working

MapsGuide Jen had noted in the Google Group – Maps for Business that the bulk upload had been fixed as of January 4th. That “fact” was reported here and at SearchEngine Roundtable. However according to recent posts in the Group (here and here) it appears that the bulk upload feature is still not working. This feature has been missing in action since approximately December 20th.

While Google has reportedly been working on changes to the Bulk Upload feature to minmize Mapspam, it appears that MapSpam has also been on the upswing of late.

Which On-line Directories provide details to Google Maps – 2008

Over this past year one of my most frequently read articles was Which On-line Directories provide details to Google Maps (Nov 2006)I decided to revisit the current data (Thanks to Miriam at SeoIgloo) to see which directories Google was using for the restaurant industry and to see how things had changed. I also realized that this might provide some baseline data to answer the question of whether Google’s relationship with CitySearch had changed.Google Maps attempts to gather authoritative details of a local business by crawling & parsing the semi-structured data of on-line directories (see also Bill Slawski’s patent summary). The restaurant industry is one of the industries that clearly benefits from local search. I have analyzed the local listings of the first 16 restaurants listed in the Buffalo, NY market and summarized which on-line directories Google is currently using and compared them to those used in November of 2006. There are some interesting differences.

Directory Jan 2008 # Listings Nov 2006 # Listings
More from » 11 3
More from » 6  
More from » 7 3
More from » 1 4
More from » 4 2
More from » 9 4
More from » 1 2
Provided by the business owner 1 1
More from » 10 7
More from » 3 5
More from » 1 2
More from » 17 7
No Longer in Restaurant Listings   10   3   1   1   2   2   3

Some observations and notes and additional findings: Continue reading Which On-line Directories provide details to Google Maps – 2008

Google Maps: Good News Bad News Announcement

Update 7:14 am 01/08/08 MapsGuide Jen to stay!
Hi Mike,
I’m not going anywhere quite yet! You’ll be seeing more posts from Maps
Guide Sirene in the group, but you can’t get rid of me that easily ;o)

Well Dave, there is a Santa Claus after all!

In a surprise announcement today, it was noted that Maps Guide Serene will be answering questions in the Google Maps for Business Group. This appears to be one of those good news bad news arrangements where Maps Guide Jen finally received the help she so desparately needed. However, it seems that Mapsguide Jen is being replaced as our intrepid interpreter and mystic seer of the cryptic meanderings of Google Maps. It appears that Maps Guide Jen has either been promoted or moved on.

I like to think that it is the former. And I will forever more think of Jen as MapsGod Jen. In related news it has been announced that a foundation may be set up in her name.

MapsGod Jen will forever be remebered for her hard work,a steady hand at the helm and equanimity in the face of duress and and an angry mob..

Goog-411 now a speedier option on Thomson/GE phones

Greg Sterling has noted a Thomson/Google deal that adds a one-touch, auto-dial GOOG-411 button into many of its latest GE-branded DECT 6.0â„¢ cordless phones. It should give Jingle’s Free 411 service a pause and it certainly raises questions about when Google will monetize its free DA service. Voice DA services are currently very lucrative and free voice DA services have the potential to be very disruptive to them. LocalMobile notes no firm has been better at converting activity to revenue and profits than Google.

As Greg pointed out from a recent LocalMobile survey 76.3% of respondents (n=671) said they had never used “one of the free alternatives to carrier-provided 411 directory assistance”. And while Jingle 411 has some market share advantage in the remaining 24% of users, it is the larger group that will ultimately decide who wins in the disruptive Free 411 DA market. It is just this market that Google is targeting with the Thomson/GE deal.

The question for Thomson/GE is: why would they agree to the arrangement? Thomson/GE is not a corporation known for its easy going style and one assumes that they did not put the Goog-411 button on their phones for the warm and fuzzies of it. The April introduction date leaves me wondering if we might not see Goog-411 monetization in that timeframe.

The one current drawback to the Goog-411 service in a consumer setting is the lack of residential listings. This consumer driven deal with Thomson might just also imply a move by Google to add residential listings in the same timeframe.

SEL Survey Data & Comparison

Mobile User Survey Redux: the Late Adopter

After Greg Sterling surveyed SEL readers on their mobile internet usage patterns, I thought it would be interesting to survey a totally distinct user group. Greg agreed and we surveyed the 1123 registered readers of, a local portal site catering to folks interested in Olean NY. Roughly 80% of OleanInfo’s readership lives within 40 miles of Olean, NY, a small town in western NY State.

The readership was chosen for contrast with the SEL readers. Presumably they are rural or of rural origins and less technically oriented. They proved to be, as a group, classic “late adopters”. 85.8% of the OleanInfo respondents were over 40 and 58% over 50 and as a group had very low mobile internet use. This stood in contrast to the SEL readership that was 84% under 40 of which almost half access the mobile internet once per week or more.

Other highlights:

• 90% of respondents report using their cells to text message (thus they do sooner or later adopt)
• 0% penetration of the iPhone
• Very low (12%) penetration of traditional smartphones
• 87% had no mobile internet usage AT ALL
• 26% reported using Free DA and of those 32% used Goog-411 and 44% uses Free-411. (Remember that the Goog-411 billboard campaign took place in Olean)

Here are the results of the survey taken last week. OleanInfo respondents are listed first with the comparable SEL response in parenthesis.

What sort of mobile phone do you currently own?

  • Conventional cell phone — 87.6% (58.7%)
  • Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) — 12.4% (30.7%)
  • iPhone — 0.0% (10.7%)

Indicate how many of the following you do with your mobile phone (multiple answers permitted):

  • Send and receive text/SMS messages — 90.9% ( 97.2%)
  • Access the mobile Internet — 22.7% (56.9%)
  • Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) — 12.1% (36.1%)

How frequently do you access the mobile Internet?

  • Never — 87.2% (33.8%)
  • Once a month or less — 4.6% (13.5%)
  • Two-three times a month – 4.6% (5.4%)
  • More than once a week — 1.8% (21.6%)
  • At least once daily – 1.8% (25.7%)

If you don’t access the Internet on your mobile phone, why not (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Keying in queries is frustrating — 21% (45%)
  • The network is too slow — 6.2% (52.5%)
  • The screen on my phone is too small — 14.8% (57.5%)
  • I don’t have a mobile Internet plan — 77.8% (45%)

Which of the following mobile search engines/sites do you use (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Ask – 17.4% (8%)
  • AOL – 4.3% (0%)
  • Google – 78.3% (90%)
  • Microsoft Live Search/MSN – 26.1% (8%)
  • Yahoo oneSearch/Go – 41.3% (20%)
  • Note-The high response rate on this question implies that the question was not fully understood

Do you use any of the free directory assistance options?

  • Yes – 26% (29%)
  • No – 74% (71%)

If you use any of the free directory assistance options, which one(s):

  • Goog411 — 32% (73.9%)
  • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) – 28% (8.7%)
  • 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) – 12.0% (8.7%)
  • 1-800-Free-411 – 44% (21.7%)

Indicate your gender

  • Female – 38% (24%)
  • Male — 62% (76%)

Indicate your age

  • 18-24 — 1.8% (17.3%)
  • 25-30 — 2.7% (25.3%)
  • 31-40 — 9.8% (41.3%)
  • 41-50 — 27.7% (12%)
  • 51-60 — 30.4% (4%)
  • Over 60 — 27.7% (0%)

Where do you reside?

  • US/North America — 99.1% (65.3%)
  • Europe — 0.9% (25.3%)
  • Asia — 0.0% (9.3%)

The survey has the caveats of any internet survey and the results only reflect the reality of the group surveyed. That being said these responses provide an interesting contrast to the results of the SEL reader survey.

Most read articles for 2008

Here are the top 10 read articles from Understanding Google Maps over the past 12 months:

1. Which On-line Directories provide details to Google Maps
2. First Case of Large Scale Abuse at Google Maps
3. Google Coupons now has searchable interface
4. Now taking Nominations for the Rubber Chicken Awards
5. Sources for Google Map’s Restaurant Local Listing data
6. Goog-411 Rolls out Billboards in the Hinterlands
7. Subscribe to Google Coupons
8. What does a link campaign look like for Local?
9. Has Google relationship with CitySearch changed
10. Yahoo Mapspam now appearing near you

Local Links of Interest

As noted in there is a new local search engine, that is now open.

WhatsOpen is an intriguing service with an even more intriguing about us page. Their approach to local search is not the standard who, what or where but rather what and when. They ask a question that even folks familiar with their own local scene frequently ask.

Just type in the name of the store you’re looking for, and your location….Results are displayed on a Google Map mashup, with listing of stores, their hours of operation, their phone numbers and their distance from the city center appearing in a left-hand column.

Users choosing to sign up for the full beta of the version get access to information from the U.S., the European Union and China along with mobile phone applications Google Android or iPhone.

An interesting report of agressive marketing & billing practices in the Local SEM space in the Google Maps for Business Group.

In Restless Pursuit of Craigslist’s Success – Bob Tedeschi, NY Times

The NY Times writes a glowing report about The Kijiji unit of eBay in their pursuit of Craig’s List. At the end of the article Kijiji’s opportunities were put in perspective by Greg Sterling:

Even without such features, though, Craigslist added nearly seven million users during the last year. That should be enough to give pause to Kijiji and other competitors, according to Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, an advertising consultancy. “There are other sites, like Google Base, with nicer features for users, but they haven’t dented Craigslist,” he said.

Windows Live Expo from Microsoft, another free classified ad site, has also struggled to gain an audience. “The more competition there is, the more it reinforces Craigslist’s users,” Mr. Sterling said. “So Kijiji is going to have to take a long-term view if they want to gain any traction.”