Posts tagged ‘places’

June 5, 2011

Google photos for businesses

sample Google Maps for business page

Sample Google Maps, Places for businesses

Business Photos from Google are now available to businesses with listings in Google Places.

Google Places listings are seen by any Google Maps user. This feature should help small businesses who want to reach more local customers. Google photographers will take interior shots of businesses, which is distinctly different from the exterior imagery ordinarily seen on Google Maps.

…sign up for a photo shoot by Google trusted photographers. The images will appear on your business’ Place page, and as 360-degree imagery using Street View technology.

Availability

The Business Photos feature is being rolled out gradually based on geographic area. The comprehensive FAQ page includes locations and timelines.

If interested in participation, a short application must be completed.

January 28, 2011

Google Boost

Google Places for business seems to have everyone guessing at the moment.  What is the new, still unannounced Google response to Group On?

Google Offers

Is it Google Offers? But aren’t Google Offers merely the yellow Tags advertised in November 2010 as a fee-based add-on to a regular Google Places listing?

There are coupon offers available on many Google Places listings for businesses.  Are these the same as the Google Places optional free feature to offer discounts alongside one’s business listing?

Both TechCrunch and TheNextWeb ran stories about the potentially new Google Offers product within the past 24 hours. Various experts weighed in via the comments, raising many of the issues I just mentioned.

From my own personal experiences with Google Places for business listings, I am inclined to believe that nothing new has happened. However, I’ve seen two items to the contrary. I’m not the only person who observed this.

Evidence regarding of the existence, or non-existence, of a new Google Offers product:

  1. I don’t recall any mention of a product named Google Offers. Google is very specific about such things. I confirmed the claims that listings for Google Offers were now visible as results on Google Search. Is this new?  One way to confirm is by running a web cache search for the same query and businesses for one of more dates in the two-three months between introduction of Google Places with Tags and now. This assumes that I can find some businesses who were running Google Tags and/ or coupon offers continuously between mid-November and now. I will try that after publishing this post.
  2. Google announced a new iGoogle widget in some places, for the express purpose of identifying Google Offers. Google explicitly states that this widget is new. When did Google first offer the widget? Is this significant on its own if I cannot get confirmation for item 1?

As I was hunting around for more clues, I found yet another product with which I was unfamiliar: Google Boost.

Google Boost

I have copy-and-pasted the text from the https secured service login page below. I haven’t clicked the links or checked the available service areas yet.

Google Boost

Google Boost Illustration

New! Get more local customers with Google Boost

Advertise your business on Google search and Google Maps

Done in minutes:  Simply pick business categories, choose ad text, and set a budget

Automatically managed:  Boost manages everything and figures out where to show your ad

Pay only for success: You only pay when potential customers click on your ad

Google Boost is set up from within your free Google Places account. Google Places helps your business get found on Google Search and Maps.  If you don’t already have a Places account, we’ll set you up with one first. Learn more.

Boost is currently available for select categories in select locationsTo get started, sign in with your Google Account or create a new one.

Is Google Boost the real Google product response to Group On?

Or is Google Boost actually an existing product about which I am unaware because it is not offered in my geographic area?  Stay tuned! Answers will be obtained in short order!


January 24, 2011

QR Codes for Google Favorite Places

What’s that bar code?

This unique bar code on the lower right of the sticker, known as a QR code, lets customers – and potential customers – instantly learn more about a business, by visiting a mobile version of the business’ Place Page on any supported phone.

via QR Codes for Google Favorite Places.

QR Code and Google Maps logo

Google Maps Favorite Places logo with expanded QR code example

Learn more about Google Favorite Places.

Favorite Places are a feature of Google Maps, but not the same as a Google Places Page.

Tags: ,
January 1, 2011

Mapping the Storm Clean-up

Recent public service by WNYC demonstrated a nice practical application of Google Maps. WNYC used Google Maps to provide real-time updating of street plowing status to residents of New York City.

WNYC radio and TV logo

Retro WNYC

WNYC readers and listeners (WNYC is also a radio station) are invited to send updates by cell phone or SMS. Just text PLOW to 30644, according to a December 30, 2010 post on the WNYC website.

I am unable to embed the associated Google Map due to restrictions by WordPress.com on use of JavaScript.

November 28, 2010

Going Social with Hotpot

Hotpot is a location-based service (LBS) with a social element. Yes, the rollout is being done with care and deliberation, but it seems that Google is finally going social!

Introducing Hotpot

Hotpot Logo

Google Hotpot is a new location-based service

Hotpot offers Google account holders the opportunity to give 1 – 5 star ratings and prose recommendations to businesses, presumably local, often smaller businesses.

Google can only access data that the user chooses to disclose, usually from other social networking services. The primary emphasis of Hotpot is dining establishments, although other business types seem to be included too. These are linked to the physical location of the business, as denoted on Google Maps.

Sociable

Hotpot is “social” because users are encouraged to invite friends and contacts to take part in Hotpot. Of course, contacts with Gmail accounts can be invited very easily. I’m working on my Gmail friend invitations now. I’m not certain whether it is possible to take part without a Gmail account.

Hotpot users may use Hotpot with Google Maps for Mobile, or directly on the web. I tried Hotpot from the web. It worked very well. I was using Google’s Chrome browser, which probably helped my user experience. I have not tried Hotpot from any other browser.

Google is promoting Place listings for businesses at the same time as Hotpot. I’ve seen more than a few service screens e.g. for Gmail account login, with promotional images for Places and Hotpot. The product introduction page implies that Hotpot is a feature of Places, not Maps, as the heading is Google Places with Hotpot.

Hotpot appears to be a full-fledged Google product, unlike Google Tags. There is already an official Google Hotpot Blog for users to keep up with the latest news. There are similar user support issues, specifically a lack of Google representatives, which is common for many (free) Google products. I observed this in the Google Help Forums the day after Hotpot debuted.

Potential branding confusion?

Hotpot is an extremely cute idea. The giant red Google map marker is very endearing. However, I already foresee branding complications. I did a very casual scan of the Twitter-verse, and noted that at least half of the uniformly enthusiastic tweets were incorrectly referring to the new product as “HotSpot” instead of Hotpot. The Official Google Canada Twitter account was one of them.

Google Hotpot

Google Hotpot Blog

I actually prefer Google’s brand name choice of Hotpot. Yet it would probably be more semantically intuitive to name it “HotSpot” given the linkage with physical location. The food-related tie-in of Hotpot, is logical. Yet “HotSpot” is a stronger complement for Places on Google Maps. Perhaps Google has a compelling promotion which will overcome this issue. At such an early stage of the product’s introduction, it is too soon to decide whether this will be of any importance.

UPDATE

November 29, 2010: TechCrunch just published an article a few minutes ago. According to TechCrunch, this is how Google explains the Hotpot name:

It’s about community!

Tags: , ,
November 16, 2010

Google Tags Special Offer

The naming and categorization of Google product lines is getting confusing. Google has innovated and introduced new items so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with their fast pace!

The items described in this post are products for businesses, although not exclusive to the enterprise-level, perhaps the opposite, in fact.

It would really help to use a flow chart or diagram to keep track of everything!

Google Places

  • a business listing associated with a unique location on Google Maps.
  • includes text, a rating, the hours of operation, photo, directions, and potentially other options
  • Places entries are returned as a response to queries submitted to Google Search.
  • Places may also appear as a sidebar in Google Maps.

Google Tags: Promote your business on Google search and Maps

Google Tags are a new optional feature for Google Places. Google describes Tags as an enhancement feature, presumably to appear on Google Places listings, on Google Maps AND/OR in Google search itself, with Places but without Maps.

IMPORTANT!!!

As of today November 10, 2010, Google was making the following special offer from the Welcome to Google Places page:

New! For a limited time, you can activate tags for free, and cancel anytime.

October 27, 2010

Google Places

Your local business, discovered on Google:                                     Be found.                                                    Communicate with customers.                                              Get insight to make decisions.

New! Local Business Centre is now Google Places. Learn more.

Claim your business on Google
and get these features:
  • Manage business information
  • Post coupons and live updates
  • See how you’re doing with a performance dashboar

via Welcome to Google Places.

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