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A eulogy for Mapquest – Search Engine Land

Earlier this week Mapquest was sold by corporate guardian Verizon to System1, an advert-tech company you’ve likely beneath no conditions heard of for an undisclosed quantity, which was “no longer material ample for Verizon to file paperwork.” That’s a metaphor for the methodology a long way Mapquest has fallen since its heyday as the dominant online mapping keep of abode roughly a decade or so in the past.

Mapquest’s long historical previous

Some folk reading this could also neutral no longer even keep in mind that Mapquest mild exists. It obviously does and mild claims, remarkably, 38 million monthly users (which will likely be overstated). By comparison, Google Maps has more than a thousand million users globally per the company. Verizon ended up with Mapquest as fragment of its AOL acquisition in 2015.

Since its acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo (in 2016), Verizon has made several mapping-linked acquisitions and investments in Mapquest, intended to bolster and likely reinvigorate the company. Alternatively, in the break, it was it seems deemed expendable.

The predecessor to Mapquest was essentially based as the mapping division of R.R. Donnelley in the gradual 1960s. After remarkable evolution over a duration of years, it was spun out in the mid-1990s beneath the management of Perry Evans and Simon Greenman, among others. In 1999, the company went public but was purchased in an all stock transaction by AOL for $1.1 billion in 2000.

At the time it was an especially worthwhile addition to AOL’s rising native search and promoting portfolio. AOL was then the accumulate’s dominant company, a plot Google occupies at the present time.

The appearance of Google Maps

The starting up keep of Mapquest’s long, gradual decline successfully started after Google’s acquisition of Australian navigation company Where 2 Applied sciences in 2004. That changed into the muse of Google Maps, which launched in 2005. Google Maps was more interactive and “draggable,” which equipped a more or much less “wow” factor that Mapquest didn’t have. Google also envisioned Maps as a searchable database of areas, which made it more kindly than Mapquest, which was largely about getting utilizing directions.

Google also invested very heavily in Maps with out regard to earnings generation — and mild does to this day. For no topic reason, AOL didn’t fully love the competitive menace of Google Maps and failed to repeatedly and sufficiently evolve and fabricate the platform, even supposing the positioning had experimented with developed functions be pleased satellite tv for computer imagery before Google. There had been periodic investments and upgrades sooner than and after the Verizon acquisition of AOL but they had been on the whole modest and customarily played take care of-as a lot as Google.

Turning off the links a turning point

In 2007 Google removed links to competing mapping websites (i.e., Mapquest and Yahoo Maps) from the break of search outcomes. Because that trade and endured feature improvements, Google Maps handed Mapquest to change into the break online mapping keep of abode in 2009. Hitwise’s Heather Hopkins said at the time that Google’s referral of native searches to its enjoy maps product was the necessary factor that drove the trade.

Mapquest mild has a cost and utilization; it also has advertiser relationships and a model of files. These factors compile it worthwhile to System1, which has a lead-gen and search promoting enterprise. We’ll peek if the positioning invests or factual mines the reward traffic for lead-gen and customer acquisition.

Is anti-competitive conduct the culprit?

The memoir of Mapquest’s decline is more complex than what I’ve described above, but these are the wide strokes. For years after the elimination of links from the break of search outcomes, some Mapquest insiders blamed Google for its declining traffic. Alternatively, Google informed me at the time that one in every of the causes the links to Yahoo Maps and Mapquest had been removed was because folk weren’t clicking on them.

By comparison, Google Maps has change into one in every of the company’s most worthwhile properties and one that is mild largely untapped from an advert earnings standpoint. RBC Capital Markets’ Label Mahaney argued in a research display disguise that Google Maps could generate between $2 and with regards to $4 billion in extra earnings for the company each and every year if it had been to extra monetize Maps.

It’d be naive to utter that Mapquest’s drop had nothing to manufacture with Google’s skill to refer traffic to its enjoy mapping keep of abode. Alternatively, it would also be incorrect to utter that reality was fully liable for what took situation to Mapquest, which wasn’t sufficiently aggressive in countering Google Maps with price promoting and product innovation.

About The Author

Greg Helpful is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held management roles at LSA, The Kelsey Crew and TechTV. Be conscious him Twitter or come by him on LinkedIn.