Hijacking Google Maps

I meant to write about this last week when it happened but neglected to . . .

To illustrate problems and vulnerabilities with local business listings security and accuracy, Mike Blumenthal “hijacked” Microsoft’s Google Maps listing last week:

I wondered if that was in fact the case so I decided to see if some of the major Fortune 500 companies had in fact claimed their records and avoided the possibility of hijackings. Microsoft came to mind first. I grabbed one of their listings in Redmond and was able to change the location, url and their business name. Microsoft even managed to gather a spammy review in its short life as an escort service :). Out of a sense of fair play, I changed it back although Google has not yet done so. I wasn’t sure that that Microsoft or Google would appreciate my sense of humor.

Here’s more coverage and additional discussion on Search Engine Land.

Once a listing is claimed it can no longer be hijacked or “punk’d,” as it were. Not to make light of it, most business listings aren’t going to get stolen by some unscrupulous competitor. Most people are honest, etc.

However, Mike makes reference to a florist whose listing was hijacked and says he lost 30% of his business during the period in question. So there are potential, real-world consequences to failing to claim and protect your listings.

___

Update: Google politely responds to Mike.

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4 Responses to “Hijacking Google Maps”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    My listing hasn’t been hijacked but it has been submarined via “User Content”:

    http://cohn.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/submarining-local-business-listings-in-google-maps-with-user-content/

  2. Nagaraju Says:

    For SMB’s, it one of those thing to learn as local moves online, they need to claim all their listings and manage them. May not be as big an issue for larger corporations, but I’m not surprised at the 30% revenue loss story.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    That’s what the guy told Mike. He’s probably just giving him a “seat of the pants” estimate.

  4. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    When I asked Marc, what do you estimate your losses to be? He said, I don’t have firm numbers.

    I then asked if you had to estimate it based on this year vs last year sales and your sense of internet generated calls could you give me your best estimation? To which he replied: 30% down.

    The current metrics for Local and Google Maps are not good so in the best of circumstances we can’t accurately measure this sort of thing up or down. So I would take his 30% to mean: A LOT!

    Mike

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