Google’s Marissa Mayer at SxSW: Hotpot Heating Up
In the “Field of Dreams” “if you build it, they will come” spirit, when Marissa Mayer takes the stage, thousands are sure to follow. Google’s VP devoted much of her keynote at SxSW Interactive to evolutions in Google’s mobile mapping products (Maps Navigation, route-around traffic and Latitude, among others).
Mobile mapping shares close synergy in the product suite with Google’s aggressive advances into local business and social channels through Places and Hotpot, and Mayer came armed with data aplenty to support progress in both. Among the highlights:
- 6 million Place pages have now been claimed by business owners.
- 20 percent of desktop search is local (a fact we already know). That share spikes to 40 percent on mobile, underscoring Google’s Maps-Places-Hotpot reviews marriage.
- Hotpot now sees more than 1 million ratings/recommendations each month and has 3 million total user submissions.
We had heard that Hotpot was catching fire quickly, but consider that number: 3 million is already one-fifth of Yelp’s 15 million reviews, and Yelp has a six-year head start (Hotpot debuted last November).
However, Mayer noted that recommendations only take a consumer so far…luring them in the door, but then what? The next step for business owners is cultivating a sustained consumer relationship. This is where “loyalty offers that cause me to come back and spend more and become a repeat customer” enter the picture through Latitude, which is testing rewards-based check-ins here in Austin this week. The problems that Mayer and team are trying to solve with check-ins are “what do I get?” and “how can it save me money?”
Speaking of problems, Mayer acknowledged that while all the mobile innovation is exciting, Google realizes that it has “too many features, and we need to condense them into products.” In other words, simplicity is the objective, both for users and especially for small businesses. This is expressly why the company has released Tags and Boost (three-click AdWords campaign generation) through Places, and has deployed SMB sales forces to test direct selling in Austin and Portland.