Saturday, June 10, 2017

What is Google really up to...and will it give Google a massive advantage in digital marketing?

Google has quietly but dramatically been updating its maps:

Front and center in that effort is using machine learning to read street and business signs:

Besides making its maps more helpful for users, there's another big reason Google is investing so heavily in enriching its map data.  Google's strategy to make its search results more relevant is based on taking location into account. Google "good pizza" and you'll get different results depending on your IP address or coordinates (if your GPS location service is enabled). The better the data Google has, the better it can provide location-based results. Multiple start-ups, including one partnering with our class this semester, are focused on highly accurate location based software for smartphones. In highly dense areas where many businesses share the same address, Google's ability to map exactly where one business is versus another will be key to taking advantage of the next wave of this highly accurate location technology.

Today, walking down the street and searching the web for something, the results are influenced by your location. Imagine in a few years that as you walk around a shopping mall, Google detects what store you're close to and updates its results accordingly. As technology improves, Google will be able to update its results to the level of detecting where within a store you are and connect your results to what you are looking at. Augmented reality solutions, like Google Translate's ability to point your phone at a foreign language and have it displayed in English are only a hint at what is to come. By building a massive data set of highly accurate map information, Google is creating a huge moat for itself that competitors will have very high costs in trying to replicate. Google AdWords and Analytics will become exponentially more powerful as advertisers can do much more than just specify a zip code. They will be able to advertise to consumers who are at an exact location in an exact set of circumstances. It's a brave new world, and Google is leading the charge.

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