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AOL’s Patch Trying to Mend Itself

We used to write about Patch from time to time in the past when it looked like there might be something to patch-logoall of the bluster that AOL’s CEO, Tim Armstrong, would generate around it. It looked like AOL had found the holy grail of the hyper local space (if you believed their hype that is) and the idea of true local reporting being both scalable and profitable was finally within reach.

Fast forward to the end of last week and the news reported by fellow AOL owned entity, TechCrunch, is not so good.

We reported yesterday that AOL’s hyper-local news service would lose hundreds of employees today, and now we have confirmation from a well-placed Patcher privy to the call that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong did indeed confirm to employees that hundreds would be laid off, with notifications of who will be let go coming throughout the coming week. (Disclosure: AOL owns TechCrunch).

Google Maps App Offers Up Local Ads to Consumers On-the-Go

If you have a restaurant, a service business or brick and mortar store, Google has a deal for you. Going forward, the Google Map app will show relevant ads at the bottom of the map when a consumer searches for a local biz.

google maps adsgoogle map ad expanded

When the consumer hits the map page, they’ll see a small ad at the bottom. It has the biz name, a short description and the mileage from your location. If you tap the ad, it expands to show additional information. In this case we see the hours, the full address, the website and then links to call, save and share.

Also note the tiny purple “Ad” icon next to the description. We wouldn’t want people to think this is the best result based on their search. This is just the best PAID result.

SMB’s and Google+ Still Not Connecting

BIA/Kelsey has released another Local Commerce Monitor report about SMB’s and their use of various pieces of the online marketing mosaic.

The findings are in the image below.

BIA Kelsey Local July 2013

The question I have is this. Why is Google+ still getting so little attention? I suspect SMB’s aren’t getting the message because it is becoming more and more well known that having a strong Google+ profile will help with search.

Of course, there are only 52% of SMB’s that have a Facebook Page as well, which seems much lower than other reports we have seen in the recent past.

Despite those numbers, 2/3 of those polled say they are either extremely or very engaged with customers on social media. Is Twitter the secret sauce for SMB’s?

Google Introduces New Zagat’s For Web and Mobile

Most thought that Google’s purchase of Zagat’s and the integration of their reviews in the Google Local offering would mean that the Zagat’s brand would be going away.

Well, most were wrong. Google released a new Zagat’s yesterday. A post on the Official Google blog tells us

We’re launching a new Zagat website and mobile app for Android and iPhone that puts the very best restaurants and nightspots right at your fingertips. And for the first time, our trusted Zagat ratings and reviews are available for free with no registration required.

The new Zagat features the latest news and video content from our expert local editors, curated lists (think “10 Hidden Restaurant Gardens Around DC”), powerful search and map-based browsing to help you find the local gems.

Here is a video as well.

Looking for Local Info: More People Turn to Facebook Than Speciality Sites

Looking for a place to eat lunch or a hotel in a new city? If you’re like most people, your first stop will be Google. But after that it gets interesting.

Yext, a company that helps you keep your online business profiles up-to-date, conducted a survey and here’s what they found:

yext local survey

16.6% of people still turn to the Yellow Pages (virtually) and local directories. I’m actually surprised by that because I don’t find those options to be very limiting.

The real surprise is the third line – 12.4% of people said they turn to Facebook.

I wish I could go back and ask those people to be more specific. I turn to Facebook to find coupons and event information on local franchises. But these are places I visit often and I follow on Facebook. I wouldn’t even think about going there to randomly look for a place to eat or shop.

Apple Beefs Up Local Data Capabilities with Locationary

Saturn Locationary Home Page GraphicApple is coming up on an anniversary of sorts. It’s not something they would like to celebrate though. It’s the one year marker of the less than stellar roll out of Apple Maps which accompanied the iOS 6 to the market in September of last year.

Let’s just say it didn’t go well. Critics worldwide panned the product. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology. This is not the stuff of a Steve Jobs led Apple for sure.

Since that time Apple has been trying to right the wrong and have made strides. The latest, as reported by All Things D, is the purchase of Locationary. It’s interesting that these folks should land at Apple and John Paczkowski tells us why.

New Google Maps Available to All

The newest version of Google Maps was an invite only affair until yesterday. Now anyone can opt-in to get the new map experience.

If you haven’t seen what this latest version looks like and does here is the video from May that Google put together.

And for you iOS users out there 9 to 5 Mac reports

In line with last week’s expectations of an updated Google Maps app, Google has begun rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS today. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Of course, not everyone in the comments section of this post is happy (shocker!) as the update requires iOS 6. You can read more about it here at the Google Lat Long blog.