A GlimPSe into the future?

Google’s Street View is amazing, but the potential commercial fillip for Google has real wow-factor. CHRIS THOMAS

Chris Thomas

By Chris Thomas

I’ve had a bit more time to digest many of the presentations from the Sydney Search Marketing Expo back in April.

Apart from the usual SEO topics, the major forward looking themes were to do with local search (maps), mobile search, social media optimisation and the optimisation of all types of content, not just text.

The folks from Google seemed to offer the biggest clues as to where they’re heading. Obviously, Google’s universal search, where images, news stories, video and maps etc can be blended into the Google results pages, featured highly.

But I felt there was one important topic that barely got a mention. It made me suspicious, and when I get suspicious, I start thinking.

Where was GPS in all of this? One of the hottest consumer goods of 2007, GPS sales have exploded with personal hand-held and in-car devices almost everywhere. Every taxi I’ve sat in recently (thankfully) has a GPS unit stuck to the windscreen.

As I sat in the taxi on my way to the Search Marketing Expo I watched the GPS constantly updating the maps on screen as we travelled along. It was quite mesmerising.

The next day Marissa Mayer from Google spoke at length about how Google was rolling out Street View in Australia. See the example in today’s Trend & Ideas article on Street View.

If you haven’t tried Google Street View yet, give it a whirl because it’s quite a fun way to whizz around the streets of a city you’ve never been to before.

So when you combine Street View and local search, what do you get? You get to see local businesses, what they look like and where they are.

But how does all this tie into GPS?

If you examine Google’s previous business strategies (such as investing in YouTube), you’ll notice that there is nearly always a financial return at the end. With YouTube, Google were WAY ahead of the game. It bought it in 2005, but it took two years for Google to actually use the videos as part of its universal results.

Street View was launched in May last year, and I imagine it’s a big financial investment having cars with 360 degree cameras driving up and down nearly every street of each city.

Look, this is a bit of a long shot, but I think Google will probably try and license Street View to GPS manufacturers. It will allow people to switch between a map view and street view. If street view is selected, it will allow Google to highlight local businesses as you’re driving along (in your taxi for example).

You might hear an ad in your cab which says something like “coming up on your right is Miller’s Pub and Restaurant. Mention this ad for 20% off your next meal”. The taxi company takes a cut and Google takes a cut from the ad revenue.

The local business has an opportunity to stand out in a crowded marketplace and it can reasonably accurately measure its conversion rate based on people who mention the ad.

It’s all there, Google just needs to put the whole thing together… If it hasn’t already.

My advice?

Move your business to the busiest road to and from the airport!


Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

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