Last Thursday, during [praized subtype=”small” pid=”3860b2c64636cc5633b387557a048bc9″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s Q3 results call, Youssef Squali from [praized subtype=”small” pid=”b6c57ce562d66b762c5095335be04e52b4″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] asked for more details about Google’s strategy and progress around local search:
“You talked earlier about GeoLocal with product like Maps and Earth is big monetization opportunity, so we have talked about them for a long time and they remain opportunities. One of the issues there has been this direct access to the advertisers to the local merchant. Have you – are we any – are we closer to cracking the code on that?”
Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder answered:
“Certainly GeoLocal has been a substantial source of investments on the part of our company and you are absolutely right. I think it is a really big monetization opportunity but it is going to have a pretty long bootstrap time because there are so many small businesses and you have to get them all in the loop. Technology is evolving quickly with respect to things shifting to mobile phones and some of them will have GPS now, some of them do not, some have cell ID different device and things. I do think that this is an investment that we are going to have to keep investing in for some time till we get really big payoff. I should mention we already have fairly substantial revenues from geo local, so it is not the case but somehow this is I mean this is a good chunk of our business and I expect that when we do finally bootstrap lots and lots of local advertisers. When there is some settling of the best user experiences for doing this both on mobile devices as well as on the desktops, I think you will see a substantial ramp there.”
Jonathan Rosenberg, SVP Product Management, added:
“The biggest thing I would reinforce from Sergey’s comments is, this is an area where we are winning. Maps is the most popular mapping site in the world. We have got all sorts of data now for over 160 countries. We are also doing some very exciting things in terms of ramping our ability to get data for areas where there are not very good maps, where we are harnessing the power of users to enter information in. On the local side, what we are doing really goes beyond the traditional Yellow Page types of activities and I mean we are taking all the information that a business would want or a user to see; reviews, hours of operations, photos, web results, and we are embedding all of those on to these maps which have a great deal of traffic. So, if you just run a query, steakhouse in Chicago or something like that and when you click on the map and select a particular listing, you can now do things like click on Street View and actually see the restaurant. So we are very pleased with the traffic that is being driven. One other thing I would actually suggest you try one of the coolest maps applications I saw. Go to swisstrains.ch to see the precision of Swiss trains in real-time and you will actually get a visceral sense of what it is going to be like for people when all of this stuff works on their browsers and works in mobile devices.
Source: “Google Inc. Q3 2008 Earnings Call Transcript” from Seeking Alpha
What it means: what Google is really saying: we’ve been very successful from a user point of view with our Google Maps sites throughout the world. We’re getting good revenues from local search but it could be better. We’re still struggling to reach the small and medium-sized businesses that make up the bulk of offline local search revenues. But, once we crack the code, it will be big. Watch for disruption happening through mobile devices and technologies.