I subscribe to a feed from Hitwise Intelligence, an “online competitive intelligence” firm that publishes traffic analysis on various topics on a blog. Today I found this post by Heather Hopkins: US: Google Maps Making Inroads Against Leader, Mapquest. I was very surprised to learn that not only is Mapquest still a viable site, but it remains the market leader by quite a big (though shrinking) margin over Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps.
It’s surprising because I assumed that Google’s site had long since become the market leader – which it is with pretty much everyone I know. I haven’t heard of anyone using Mapquest in years – and if you go to the site, all you find is the same barely-usable interface and sketchy, jaggedy maps as always, not to mention almost useless search results and a decided lack of actual mapping features.
There are two pretty clear reminders in this case for anyone who works in online marketing: a) the market leader isn’t necessarily who you (as a specialist) assume it is, and b) a site’s market/traffic leadership doesn’t mean that it is the one to emulate. I guess incumbency status really is important, even on the net.
Mr. Obvious says
Uh… great. Assuming something is popular because your friends use it is NOT a marketing best practice. Assuming something is not popular because you don’t use it is just as silly. Mapquest is still the market leader for lots of reasons. Interesting that the Hitwise article points out–but you fail to mention–that a very large portion of Google’s map traffic comes from Google search results. Recently, Google stopped sending mapping traffic to Mapquest unless a user searched explicitly for Mapquest.com. Can’t blame them, but the result is that Google’s map traffic went up and Mapquest’s went down by the same amount, and not for any user preference reasons. To your parting shot about incumbency status… sometimes incumbents (present administration excluded) are in place because they were–and are–valid and relevant.
gros connard :D
Yeah, I’m sure it’s all a Google plot against Mapquest, and not the fact that Mapquest hasn’t upgraded their basic map presentation in years, nor is it because their search results are pretty much useless.
Your hunch was correct though: Google Maps is #1 worldwide, with Mapquest nowhere to be seen.
Are you seeing the same Mapquest that I am? It seems pretty upgraded to me. It’s true that the landing page is pretty grim, but once you get a map, it’s pretty good. Nice and clear, easily zoomed and panned.
Last time I looked at Mapquest (must be two or three years ago) you couldn’t even pan by grabbing the map; you had to use the arrow buttons. Plus the map itself was a set size on the page (way too small). But the one I’m looking at now is grabbable and expands dynamically when you expand the browser window. It’s almost as easy to use as Google’s (although you can’t zoom with the mouse wheel), and almost as elegant.
But I’m as surprised as you are to hear it’s still the market leader.
Denis Canuel says
It’s funny because most non-geeks that I know use MapQuest and most (if not all) geeks that I know use Google Map.
Different markets, different products I guess. I should probably start BabyBoomerMaps.com as that sounds like a nice niche.