Search Engine Land has a great interview with MapQuest’s Mark Law, Vice President of Product Development and Christian Dwyer, Senior Vice President & General Manager. The company seems to be slowly rising from the grave this year, bringing Yelp reviews to its dot-com platform, partnering with Garmin to get MapQuest on the company’s portable navigation devices, and releasing MapQuest 4 Mobile which is a mobile client. It also released a series of API’s early in 2008 not only hoping developers would build off the mapping platform but 3rd party content providers would syndicate feeds back to it.
I’ve maintained throughout the year my thoughts on the company’s supposed rise. I’ve thought that it may be too late with the rise of competing map platforms from Google and Yahoo. But I could be wrong. In the interview, MapQuest–Mark and Christian for this article’s purposes–revealed that the company is profitable and users have responded well to geotargeted and behaviorally relevant advertising on the dot-com property. Definitely a good thing. Perhaps more interestingly though is the company’s views on its competitors.
According to MapQuest the real competition in the online and mobile mapping landscape is Yahoo–not Google, NAVTEQ, or TeleAtlas. The company quotes search and site engagement stats to make their case:
Google Maps may be gaining ground in terms of unique visitors but our user engagement and value proposition is very different than Google Maps. Visitors to MapQuest are far more engaged as we are actually a destination website. Consumers actively look and search for MapQuest. In fact, MapQuest is the 8th most searched term, according to Hitwise. Google Maps is 57th. MapQuest also has a deeper level of user engagement as demonstrated by 113% more pages viewed per visitor per month than Google Maps and visitors spending 78% more minutes (13.8 compared to 7.8 minutes) on MapQuest versus Google Maps.
Google Maps visitors, MapQuest points out, tend to be driven to the platform by search–it’s not a destination site. But they do admit over the long-term, Google’s search dominance give the company the ability to create new behaviors. For now though, says MapQuest, “our biggest competitor is Yahoo given what they have evolved into. Yahoo is much closer to Mapquest in terms of page consumption versus the shallower user visits in Google.”