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It’s About Place (Part 8)

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 25th 2007

by Cal McElroy, Guest Author

When I started this discussion on PlaceSmart Search and PlaceID back in May, there was a list of topics and issues I wanted to cover, but no clear vision on how to finish the series. As a start, here is a quick recap of the discussion:

  • Paid local search, while a potential monster business opportunity, has yet to really take off. Why?
  • Premise 1: Rich content and great search experience come first, then traffic, and finally monetization.
  • Premise 2: Businesses want (and will pay) to be found and advertisers always find the audience.
  • A tiny fraction of the worlds information is currently indexed for location-based retrieval (even Google admits this).
  • Maps and GeoTags, while cool, don’t solve the underlying content indexing, integration and retrieval issues.
  • Location and search technologies are not well integrated today – mapping engines are not search engines.
  • Location intelligence needs to be encoded in the content, like keywords and URLs.
  • Place and Location are not the same – every real world place has a geographic location.
  • Human beings invariably use Places to describe where they are, or where they want to search.
  • Lat/lon is not accurate enough to identify a specific building, and does not support suites, apartements or stores within a building at all.
  • Determining a valid, real world address from lat/lon coordinates (e.g. position of a GPS device) is virtually impossible.
  • Place references (i.e. addresses, place names) are already embedded in 80% of the world’s information.
  • Place references are fraught with ambiguity, errors and discrepancies, and 25-30% of people and businesses move every year.
  • Next generation local search engines must understand; 1) which place, 2) where is it, 3) who or what is there, and 4) what’s nearby – in other words a) precise place determination, b) location intelligence, c) rich content about places, and d) the heirarchic and geographic relationships between and among these places.
  • PlaceID is a universal key that fuses address, place name and location (as available) – in order to tag or index a myriad of content based on the paradigm of place.
  • Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have made maps a commodity – indexing and integrating information about places is the new challenge.
  • Place is the foundation for local search – places are the new keywords.

You can certainly link back and read the detailed discussions in prior posts about these issues and concepts, but this is the gist of it… The world’s information is currently not organized for location-based search, and Maps with GeoTags are not the solution.

So how is this situation going to change?

There are just too many local media players and content sources for Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL or IAC to buy them all, in order to create and geotag a critical mass of local content.

What is the event, or set of conditions that is going to trigger a stampede of businesses wanting to advertise their “places of business” in local search sites or location-enabled portals, or wireless applications?

If the formula for monetizing local search is: Content + Location Context + Great Search Experience + Traffic = $$, how do we get all the content organized, based on location context, to prime the money pump?

In both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 it was millions of users at the edge of the Internet, initially publishing web sites and then generating content that enabled Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook to create a destination site, and ultimately generate traffic. I believe that this is how the local content – location context conundrum will get resolved as well.

For our contribution, we have decided to offer our patented PlaceID to users, web developers and application partners, for free, as a web service. This will provide a universal reference system for places, available to all, for use as a tag on content or a key in search indexes… it could take mashups, and local content syndication to a whole new level. It will enable the users of the web to remix and organize web content, around the paradigm of place. If you think about it… they have already done this many times before, with content linked to URLs or “virtual places in the web“.

Our mission is to create the world’s first database of places, and use Common Ground(r) to organize a world of information about these places, to enhance map-based and location-enabled applications with PlaceSmart Search(tm).

Simply put, Cquay offers… The magic behind the map!

[Part 1]
[Part 2]
[Part 3]
[Part 4]
[Part 5]
[Part 6]
[Part 7]
[Part 8]

This segment is part 8 in the series : It's About Place
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

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Hi carl

I think it is a brilliant piece. it is our mantra also at http://www.findnearyou.com. we are of the view that technology cannot divine User intent. Googles and yahoos are their own nemesis in local search play precisely because of their model of scale/footprint obsession.

How the local search market is going evolve is still a question mark. I think anybody who is going to provide destination platform or a software service ( a site that has evolved into one) will win. provide a converging point for sponataneous aggregation of shared interests.

ram Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 4:45 AM PT