Yahoo has started to integrate indoor maps into its newly upgraded mapping product. Even though Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer didn’t want to go head to head with Google in “local” (read: maps), Yahoo has been improving its mapping and local search user experiences of late.
The inclusion of venue maps comes courtesy of Nokia’s Here division. Yahoo isn’t creating these maps itself; Nokia has been collecting and mapping venues in different categories for a number of years and now has coverage in 45 countries, with more than 1,000 venues being added monthly according to the company.
Nonetheless, improved maps is part of Mayer’s overall effort to boost search usage. This would presumably extend to mobile; however in trying this on the iPhone I discovered that there wasn’t an optimized mobile experience yet. And there’s no Yahoo Local or Yahoo Maps app (might one be on the way?).
Bing and Google are making similar efforts. Despite some fanfare, it’s not clear what level of progress is being made however. See, for example:
Indoor maps have a number of functions. As a basic matter they can provide a better maps experience in malls, airports, college campuses, hospitals, stadiums and so on. But indoor or venue maps can also contribute to improved online-to-offline ad tracking.
When a mobile user has been exposed to an ad and then visits a mall or store that visit can be captured in a number of ways, including by watching that user cross a store perimeter threshold.
What’s intriguing to consider is whether Yahoo’s Mayer is going to push deeper into improving Yahoo Maps, local and mobile search as a way to capture new usage. And she doesn’t necessarily need to spend tons of money or recreate Google Street View to do so.
I’ve argued that mobile and vertical search are areas where Yahoo may be able to compete successfully.