Killer Maps Apps

Online maps have provided fertile new territory for advertisers. A recent report from Universal McCann calls it “mapvertising” and reveals some surprising findings.

Among them: Google doesn’t dominate the segment. While 86 percent of Internet users visit map sites, more than 66 million choose MapQuest or Yahoo Maps, leaving Google Maps in third place with 19 million visitors.

Marketing strategies abound. Brands leverage search not just by buying listings but also by choosing specific icons. Barnes & Noble locates itself on Google Maps with green coffee cups instead of the generic red balloons.

Marketers have discovered gaming, branding, service, and entertainment applications for map technology. HBO offered a “Sopranos” map that detailed sites from the Mob’s dealings. Google teamed with Fiat for a global treasure hunt. mashes Google Maps with Craigslist’s housing ads. Some sites let consumers customize maps that function as blogs and social networks.

And, as the report suggests, since we can see entire neighborhoods via satellite now, it may even be time for some rooftop billboards.

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