The New 'Mapvertising': Thinking Strategically About SMB Maps

April 13, 2016 Peter Krasilovsky

With the rise in mobile usage, maps have been considered so important that a number of agencies have emphasized “mapvertising” – ads and offers contextually placed in maps – as a key element of SMB marketing.  One of the greatest strengths of maps (and directions) is they let marketers know exactly where consumers are going. In some cases, they also reveal when consumers will be going.

While mapvertising offerings by Google Maps and Apple Maps have gained some traction for mobile phone users, it can’t be said that mapvertising has become the new paradigm for advertising. Several mapvertising agencies have actually failed.

But here’s a fairly safe prediction: mapvertising will become much more important in coming years (although it will probably be called something else.)  It will go far beyond the SMB’s use of maps today, which typically focus on throwing a basic map on the Website, and  boosting search rankings.

Indeed, several marketing concepts are in development that integrates maps with local offerings. These include local delivery services and "Connected Car" concepts  

As marketing consultant Bruce Rogers recently told BIA/Kelsey:   “We’ve reached the point where consumers expect messages tailored for them based on where they are and what they need. The goal for marketers shouldn’t be to replace the offline experience with an online one, but to use mobile and location to enable a faster, more seamless path to purchase.”

Given their importance, SMBs should begin thinking strategically about how they are using maps. They should also ensure their data, such as coupons and reviews, are being included in third party maps that represent different types of local, regional and category-specific offerings.

SMB service providers in verticals such as travel, weddings and sports, for instance, use licensed map data from major companies such as Google or MapQuest, or Zillow’s free API , to highlight different locations in an area. The, for instance, uses a map to show wedding guests the location of ceremonies, receptions and hotels. Other map concepts include real estate, entertainment, public transit and parking maps. 

SMBs are also beneficiaries of being included in specialized maps that can be filtered, perhaps as a color coded "heat map,"  in many ways.  American Express, for instance, has been posting maps to highlight SMBs that participate in its Small Business Saturday promotion.  A business that is not listed in that map --or takes an active role, generally, in mapping -- stands to miss out on customers. 



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