This is an unedited “live blog” of Michael Jones’ keynote at SMX Local & Mobile (excuse errors and typos):
Michael begins with a mountain climbing metaphor; a kind of Zen thing: what mountain to climb and why?
Google isn’t the best in local search, he admits. The real competition is hotel concierges, he says. He adds human local knowledge is the standard. Jones: Google Maps/Local is a kind of “pseudo concierge.” He then describes the qualities of a good concierge and compares Google to those criteria
Jones stresses “hyper local” content to local search. He says that global or national information should also be a part of local search. He says that other than specifically local information may be relevant to local queries – cites Universal Search as an example of Google’s current offering in that regard.
He also talks about personalization/customization as a potentially important area in local.
The state of the art is “actually pretty poor.”
He then segments local search user behavior: Internet, mobile/speech or text (Google SMS, Goog411, Send to Car, Google Maps/Earth). He also talks about visual browsing in local as an important modality.
He talks about local search functionality being built on local data. He goes into the sources of local data, including the YP database and community ratings and reviews.
His slide says: “Everything with a location is local data.”
Describes hyper-local weather forecasts on mobile in Tokyo. Says that hyper local content is expanding. Also says that local information goes way beyond YP listings database.
Launches into Google approach/attitude toward local:
Google Maps, Local Search, Google Earth: it’s really not about maps; it’s about providing context for the information. The map is context to make the information more useful. Most types of information could be better understood if they were place on a map or on a globe.
Talks about different ways of accessing Google organized content. Lauds the iPhone and predicts that “everything will be like that – connected in a real way.”
Shows Google Moon and Apollo 11 mission as an example of how local context makes information more understandable. Zooms out to show constellations and NASA images.
Earth and Maps have 250 million users daily around the world. US population is 301 million.
Talks about how SketchUp is a way to provide content/context – 3D modeling.
Shows election results in France plotted on a map broken down in various ways. Cites the combination of global (national) and local as an important combination.
Jones talks about “mapping the last mile”: all the varieties of local information that Google is layering into maps. Jones talks about user-generated content and MyMaps as another source of local information.
Talks about Darfur and how tragedy chronicled (data/images) on Earth/Maps can make the tragedy more real, more personal.
There’s information that belongs on a page and information that belongs on a map and “some data belongs in either place.” He says that most information can go either way; maps are an alternative way to render and present information.
Jones cites the acquisition of TeleAtlas and potential acquisition of Navteq by Nokia as reasons to step up user-generated local data to ensure the flow of that information. He says that local people have better local knowledge and more “granular” local knowledge. User-generated content is the future of local data.
“In local, the whole planet is your customer base.”