Deliver Hyperlocal Content with Google Maps Local Context

Posted by Derek Imes, Head of Location Services, - Jun 17, 2020

When it comes to local maps and location-based services, one thing drives how these solutions work and continue to grow and develop. No, it’s not a great looking map or a solid app, although both features are definitely important.

Give up? It’s the user. Or, more specifically, a user’s location. From a simple perspective, think about how your customers search for things when they are on the road, They have to search around in different browser windows or mobile apps to find things that are nearby your hotel or meeting site.

So, what if I told you there’s now an easier way to do this? Google is adding Local Context to its powerful Google Maps Platform–now in beta. It will change the way your customers use location-based services. 

Google is adding integrated Local Context to its powerful Google Maps Platform. @OnixNetworking

Life Without Google Maps Local Context 

As you go through your work week, think about how many times you need location information. Perhaps you’re scouting business sites to expand or move an office. Maybe you’re booking travel to attend a conference. Or you know you have an off-site meeting that ends around lunch and want to find somewhere nearby to eat before heading back to the office.

Getting information about what’s nearby these locations isn’t always easy. As I mentioned in my earlier traveler scenario, it involves extra searches, multiple browser windows and a lot of going back and forth. It’s inefficient and can get confusing.

And if you’re doing these kinds of searches during your workday, then it’s likely your customers are searching for things near your business, too.

And while Google Maps Platform’s Places API has local search and place detail features that allow you to integrate local information into your Google map, there are drawbacks. 

You have to build and maintain the API-based integration and curating the places information can suck up a lot of time. It also takes development resources and leaves you with a murky cost scenario. It all depends on the amount of user interaction with each separate API call.

This is where Local Context comes into play when you map your data.

What is Local Context?

Imagine if you could blend the best of Google Maps Platform's Maps Routes and Places into one amazing experience. That’s exactly what Local Context delivers.

example of local context mapping

Local Context keeps your users engaged with your site by giving them the details they need about what’s near a specific location, such as your hotel or apartment complex, including names of the businesses, descriptions, price points, ratings, reviews and photos. They also get walking directions and estimated time of arrival from your location to those nearby.

A Place Chooser function gives them an even more visual experience.maps place chooser

They don’t have to leave your site to open another tab or window to get this information. All of it’s provided to them right there, via rich local content on your site. It provides a better user experience, keeps them on your site, and helps them make quicker, more confident decisions.

On the backend, you can tailor this experience by selecting only the place types you want them to see. For example, you could show them only restaurants, parks and shopping centers.

Local Context also allows you to select how many of each of these types of places to show and how many total places to appear on your map. Priced per session for more predictable costs, it offers integrated user interaction with Places data, with no extra API calls.

What Do I Need to Do to Integrate Local Context?

The full Local Context experience integrates into your site within a matter of days, using just a few lines of code. It works as a drop-in replacement for your existing maps and keeps the style and functionality of maps intact.

It costs virtually nothing in development and maintenance costs to keep it updated and fresh. Google handles the POI updates and curation work in the background, freeing your IT team for other crucial tasks.

Are you ready to learn more, see a demo or sign up for the Local Context Beta program?

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Derek Imes, Head of Location Services

Derek Imes, Head of Location Services

Derek is the Head Location Services at Onix. Since 2013, he has focused on helping companies understand the business benefits of adopting location-based solutions. Derek helps customers understand the licensing options and best practices for deploying Google Maps solutions, both pre and post sale.

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