Consumers are flocking to online map sites.
Hitwise reports that "visits to the Travel – Maps category by Australian Internet users grew by 43.9% in the year to April 8.
The beta launch of ninemsn’s MyLocal service and the expected launch of integrated maps and local search offerings from other major players in Australia signal a highly competitive market ahead.
"Whereis.com (whereis.com), owned by Sensis, holds the dominant market share in the Travel – Maps category, with 40.9% of online visits for the week ending April 8, 2006.
"Much of the recent category growth has been driven by the launch of Google Maps (maps.google.com
) and Google Earth (earth.google.com
) which ranked 2nd and 4th respectively for the same week.
"In the Business and Finance – Business Directories category, Sensis web properties again dominate. WhitePages (www.whitepages.com.au), YellowPages (www.yellowpages.com.au) and Sensis (www.sensis.com.au) were the top three ranking websites, accounting for a combined 73.6% market share for the week ending April 8, 2006.
"The nearest competitor was a new entrant owned by News Ltd., TrueLocal.com.au, which maintained 3.6% market share.
"The applications of mapping technology online have a wide scope, where a number of Google mashups, or websites using the Google API for novel content areas, are popping up.
"An example includes social networking website, Frappr (www.frappr.com
) which allows users to find friends’ locations by their post code.
"Frappr ranked at 7th position in the Travel – Maps category, holding 2.6% market share for the week ending April 8, 2006.
"The opportunity exists here to extend net community functionality into business directories to improve the relevancy of the service to consumers.
"Indeed, the possibilities of combining various content formats appear endless, where there will be more start-ups offering ancillary services to the major players.
"Hitwise Search Intelligence data show that there were 249,531 search terms that drove traffic to the Maps and Business Directories categories combined, over a 12 week period ending April 8, 2006.
"The search term, ‘post codes’ drove a significant amount of traffic to both categories, with 602 variations on this term. Australia Post received the majority of this traffic (66.8%), where local search providers have the opportunity to improve website visits on these variations."