Marchex and Google at ILM
Sorry for the delay on reporting out on ILM, but I have been busy on a project that has taken most every second of my time. I was unable to attend the second day of ILM and missed some presentations that appear to have been very interesting. I returned on Friday and thought you might want to hear about two presentations. One was from Marchex http://www.marchex.com/ and the other from Google.
Bill Day (CMO) and Russell Horowitz (CEO) of Marchex made a joint presentation on the company’s focus on Local. Marchex is reputed to own over 150,000 “geo-websites”, such as “newyorkdoctors.com”, “90210.com”, “seattleinsurance.com” and others that include a place name or spatial designator combined with a search vertical.
What caught my attention was one of their slides that placed Local as one of the five Megatrends on the Internet. I have recreated their slide below – notice that they believe that the Local category does not yet have a winner, and Marchex is certainly hoping that they will wind-up in the winner’s circle.
In order to accomplish this goal, the speakers from Marchex indicated their intent to build the most local-centric advertising platform that will deliver the most clicks and calls for local aggregators and national advertisers with local interest (like AT&T).
Marchex hopes to deliver “…unparalleled utility and relevance to consumers who are turning to the Internet for local information. I think Marchex is on the right track, but I was disappointed when they showed their demo. Remember the series of blogs I wrote about classification issues in local search and the need for Folksonomies? Well, Marchex was using Yellow Pages categories to represent their data – so much for relevance. I stopped their CEO later that morning and asked about Folksonomies and related issues. The response was “In about 6 months”.
Later Friday morning (Friday was a half-day session) John Hanke, who is product Director Earth/Maps/Sketchup for Google gave a presentation on their newest mapware. It is clear that Google has headed down the path of User Generated Content, although it is less clear how far they are willing to take this trend.
I was surprised that Hanke stopped during his speech, looked around the audience and said “People have no idea that the fundamental data (for maps and business listings) is not accurate”. Ouch! Take that Navteq, TeleAltas, infoUSA, Acxiom and Amacai.
The rest of his talk was about the functionalities that Google was providing its users to allow them to correct some of the “problems” with these data. As you may know, Google recently launched the ability for users to move address markers (subject to some limitations) to allow for better positioning and routing to locations of interest. In addition, Google has been cultivating business owners for some time, asking them to claim their business listings and make corrections to the basic data about their business.
John suggested that Google’s mission in this area was to “…turn the world into a wiki” to let the user take leadership in map data content. He continued that Google is “…pretty wide open to user changes”, but indicated that abuse was a potential issue and that they had algorithmic approaches to dealing with this problem. I found that interesting, but John did not comment further (nor could he have been expected to do so).
I have one more column about ILM that I will publish later this evening. I was asked to speak at the wrapup session (with about 20 minutes notice) and had a few things to say. I will tell you about them in my next blog, although you can see most of it in Peter Krasilovsky’s Local Onliner.