Category Archives: Google Hotpot

Google Adds End User Offers Signup to Google.com/Portland

Portland has been a keystone city in Google’s Hotspot Hotpot Places marketing efforts. They inundated Portland businesses and individuals with high visibility ads, marketing, schwag and high profile sponsorships.

We don’t know the number of additional claimed Places listings but we do know that it lead to a dramatic uptick in their ratings and reviews, moving them to near parity with Yelp in the important restaurant industry within several months.

It makes sense that they would leverage this visibility to introduce their new 50% Offers beta. Over the weekend we started to see general purpose Offers videos, help files and end user and business sign up forms. Now they have added end user and business sign ups to Google.com/portland, the main landing page for their Hotpot Places marketing in Portland.

Google Places Schwag, Schwag and More Schwag in More Places

The Google Places with Hotpot promotion that started in Portland in December, 2010 is now ongoing in four additional cities: Austin, Las Vegas, Madison and Charlotte.

As a part of the promotion, any business in any of those cities that claims their listing is eligible for a business kit that includes Google bling. Apparently several businesses are having difficulties with the ordering process and reported problems in the forums.

I was curious about the process and problems and managed to finagle an order via the online catalog. Here is a slide show of oder process and the (many) items available. Many of the same items available in Portland are also available in the four other cities although it is not clear if Google is using every promotional tactic that they used in there.

Unfortunately Google was out of stock on the neon signs and the fridge magnets but they apparently still have a good stock of the fortune cookies. Not sure exactly what they might be predicting….:

Google Places Tidbits

This in from frequent contributor Plamen. Google has shifted their current “Offers” down on the Places Page to the bottom of the Page. Plamen speculates its perhaps to make room for paid offers higher up the page. Google has in the past noted that they are continually testing page content and moving down and out those things that do not perform well:

Frequent commenter Earlpearl noticed this use of the 7-Pack to promote Hotpot. Clearly Google is using their many properties up to and including the main search engine results page to send users over to their new recommendation engine: Continue reading

Google Pushing HotPot to the Big Leagues

Google announced last night that Hotpot friend recommendations are now showing on the main Google search results in the 7-pack. They are also showing in the local organic blended results and branded searches.

Google is working on social tools on a number of fronts more or less successfully. You can never count them out though when they are willing to bring the full weight of the front page of Google to the game.

It appears to me that eating, reviews and ratings are where they are really where they are making a stand and to do so they are driving traffic to Hotpot. Hotpot previously has been highlighted in Maps, Places and mobile.

What better way to incent Hotpot users than to show them, front and center, where their friends ate. What better way to create more Hotpot engagement and traffic than showing it on the front page of Google. Let the ego games begin.

Here is a screen shot of a branded Local Universal result where you can see the inclusion of Hotpot ratings: Continue reading

Interview with Lior Ron, Hotpot Product Manager

Last week in This Week in Startups, Jason Calcanis had a great interview with Lior Ron (who like hotpot has his name backwards :) ),the product manager for Google Hotpot. The interview is interesting, gives insight to the technology and Google’s thinking about its role going forward and its relationship to personalized search.

The interview is longish but well worth watching and chock full of gems. It is refreshing to hear candid remarks from the Maps team.

The actual interview with Lior starts just around minute 4:58 and trust me you will want to start there…

How Long Has Marissa M Been Testing Hotspot?

Gary Danko, is not the sort of restaurant that I would typically eat at, not that I wouldn’t like to try it one day. Dinners run towards $200/ head. While, it is unlikely I ever will eat there, the many, many reviews provide for some interesting reading.

Amrita – Aug 12, 2010
The seared foie gras is to die for. also, don’t go with more than three courses unless you are *really* starving

I presume that the word starving is not meant literally in this context.

But it also appears to be a favorite haunt for Googlers, particularly those on the Maps team. This includes both long time veterans and some recent arrivals. In the body of reviews there are some interesting narratives and insights (both real and imagined).

Carter doesn’t appear all that cracked up about the place giving it but a one star Hotpot rating. Lior Ron, a senior product manager on the Maps team on the other hand ate there on September 18th and gave it 5 stars.  Marissa M also seemed to really enjoy it here, giving it a 5 star rating. Continue reading

Google Hotspot Influence Rolling Across All of Google Local

We continue to learn about changes across all of Google local products as Hotspot is further integrated into the rating and review process. Lat Long Blog points out that Places will now include a new section highlighting recommendations from friends:

I noted in Rating are the new Reviews that Google was now allowing rating in Places. Actually it is much more pervasive than that as they can now be made in all of the following Google products:

To rate a business on desktop, simply hover over rating stars anywhere you see them. Here are places you’ll see the rating stars, on your computer.

With your mobile device, you can rate places while on the go. You’ll see the rating stars several places on your phone.

  • Google Maps mobile app for Android
  • Places Android app
  • Android home screen rating widget
  • Mobile Place pages

Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

If likes are the new links then ratings are the new reviews. At least as far as Google is concerned as they continue to integrate elements from Hotpot into Places.

I noted the other day that Google was integrating HotSpot friend recommendations in personalized Map results. They are also now including a new rating level with an eye-catching Best Ever ribbon/icon from Hotpot on the Places Pages.

This sort of additional ego boost might just incent business owners to train their customers how to use Google Hotspot. If Google adds some ranking strength to the signal, business owners will be crashing down the gates to get the rating.

The new Google HotPot offers a more relaxed user feedback environment than Google Places, allowing for just a star rating and a quick sentiment (for hotels & restaurants) but also encouraging, although not requiring, a brief review.

Google Places has recently added the ability to add this simpler, quick Hotpot like star rating to businesses that show in the Related Places area of the Place page (When did they change the name from Nearby Places You Might Like?). The option is only available on Places that have previously received Google reviews.

Continue reading

Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

Several weeks ago, before, during and after the Hotspot rollout, newly created reviews from reviewers with non-public Google profiles were having their Places reviews filtered. I tested this by writing a number of reviews, over time and many places in a secondary account. All of the reviews were accepted, none were published.

Google has now implemented a new, limited review profile called a “Places Profile” that allows reviews  to be shown but requires a new, quasi private profile with at least a public nickname to proceed.

If a current Google account user without a public profile attempts to write a review on a business Place Page without this new Places profile they will see this message on the Places Page and will be unable to proceed until they visit Hotspot and enter their “nickname” (click to view larger) :


They are taken over to Hotspot and presented with this screen:

Continue reading