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Finding the treasure: digital maps and marketing

I can’t remember the last time I used a paper map, can you? If not, you’re like the millions of people who use their smartphone or mobile device to navigate their way around towns and cities the world over every day. 

But as yet, there are precious few opportunities to advertise to the millions of users who tap their way around the globe. Digital map usage has seen phenomenal growth in line with the surge in smartphone users.

According to the recent eMarketer report Maps and Map Marketing: Big Potential Seen in a Burgeoning User Base, More Open Playing Field, marketers are still searching for a compelling way to get customers’ attention at the gateway between the physical and digital worlds.

Digital map use now accounts for billions of minutes of mobile device usage time every month globally. According to the report, the US digital map user base totalled 163 million in June this year, up nine per cent on the same month in 2013. Most of this usage accounts for smartphone map use; around 90 per cent of digital navigators use their phone or tablet to find their way around.

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In December 2013, a survey by Experian Marketing Services found more than half of US smart phone users had the Google Maps app on their device, or used the service’s mobile site.

So where is the opportunity to harness the power of digital mapping technology for the purposes of marketing? According to a 2014 report by InMobi, US mobile users reported that locating an advertiser on a map was the fourth most common action taken after seeing an advertisement on a mobile device.

 Getting your business noticed on Google Maps

If you’ve decided to advertise on Google Maps, here’s a few quick points to get you started:

+     Ads will appear on both the desktop and mobile version of the site

+     Search ads are shown in two places; beneath the search box with info-cards, and on the map (as in image below)

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+     People can tap or swipe the ad to view more information about your business, including your address, phone number, and a click-to-call button. They’ll also see the directions button, and options to save and share your business’s location

+     Ads on Google Maps are charged on cost-per-click (CPC) basis, but save and share location clicks are free

+    More information about how Google Maps advertising works is available here