Wednesday, Apple released its IOS6 update. One of the most talked about changes involves the transition from Google Maps to the new Apple Maps for the default Maps app. The subject of much writing and speculation, with the release finally here, we can see what Apple has developed.
While there’s much to cover, including the potential of the 3D map, the surprising lack of transit directions, and the turn-by-turn navigation, business owners ought to be thinking about one change first and foremost: where the data is coming for business location information. The accuracy of the map and a business’ information could determine whether or not customers find and contact the businesses they seek out or end up going to a competitor instead. It becomes especially important for businesses that rely on out-of-town customers since they are heavily dependent on their map and can’t roll their eyes at inaccuracies the way locals might.
So here’s what business owners and marketers need to know…
Where Apple gets their data
Before the launch, Apple updated its disclaimer information to indicate they get information from Yelp, Localeze, Acxiom, TomTom and Waze. Based on the breakout, many assumed that the five groups would provide the following types of information to Apple Maps:
- Localeze and Acxiom: business information
- Yelp: Primarily reviews and photos; secondary source of business information possibly
- TomTom and Waze: driving directions
This seemed like a logical bet; since each group specializes in a specific type of information. With the change complete and after some initial research, it appears Apple went a different route. It seems business information (Name, Address, Website) are being supplied by Yelp – whenever the data being requested exists – as the following example illustrates.
M Henry, a favorite brunch spot for many north side Chicagoans, has a potentially problematic inconsistency to address. Below you can see how its information appears on Localeze, Yelp, and Apple Maps (Acxiom information is not available to the public)
Because business information should be mostly consistent between platforms, the address, phone, and URL all match for each of the three providers. But take a look at the business name. Localeze indicates that this is the “M Henry Cafe.” Both Yelp and Apple Maps show the restaurant as “m.henry.” It’s not an insignificant difference and indicates that data from Yelp is trumping data from Localeze when conflicting business information exists.
This wasn’t just a one off example either. Usually the differences are small, such as “Street” vs “St.” or slight changes to the business name, but time and again, when faced with any discrepancy in business data between Yelp & Localeze, Apple Maps matched the information on Yelp.
So what should a business do if its information on Apple Maps is incorrect?
First, make sure the business’ information on Yelp is correct. If any changes are needed, claim your listing and make those immediately. Second, submit a change request for the business through Apple Maps.
To submit a change on Apple Maps, scroll to the bottom of the business listing and click on the “Report a Problem” button. Then the following screen appears:
After clicking here, businesses have the option to correct information for their listings. Change requests go to Apple for review, and as of now, the anticipated turnaround time is unclear. The change is not immediately available, and changes submitted Wednesday hadn’t appeared midday Thursday. This shouldn’t be surprising for anyone used to waiting on changes from other map providers.
Apple relying so heavily on Yelp for data doesn’t seem like a bad idea at first, but Yelp’s core business data is mediocre at best. There was a study by Implied Intelligence earlier this year that showed Yelp towards the bottom of most of the online Yellow Pages when it comes to business data accuracy. Since updating information on Yelp requires approval and there is no way to claim your Apple business listing, Apple is setting the stage for business owners to begin raising their voices over inaccurate listings and lost business. Remember, this isn’t only a business listing site. It’s a map, and customers use it to get to businesses. With pins improperly located, city limits ill defined and city centers improperly placed, problems will continue.
There has been a lot of criticism of Apple Maps since yesterday’s launch, and I have to imagine Google is chomping at the bit to get out a revised Maps app for the iPhone. Apple’s success with Maps may hinge on the one group they’ve listened to least in the past… the end user.