Google Indoor Maps: Will it work?

Two days ago, Google launched Google Maps for Android in Singapore tying up with 22 local stores. The map allows consumers to see detailed floor plans automatically when users are viewing the map, without the hassle of downloading an additional app.

While a Google spokesperson has told Marketing that there is no additional advertising component tied to this specific indoor maps feature, she added that Google Maps in general "will continue to provide advertising opportunities for business owners."

Industry experts have agreed that the feature has enormous potential as an advertising platform. However, they warn that if the messages don't resonate with consumers, it might just come off as plain hype.

Luke Nathan, regional CEO of Iris Worldwide told Marketing that while contextual based messaging and behavioral prompting is effective in helping brands to prove their utilities close to the purchase moment, it has to be done with a right mindset.

"The big watch out here is to ensure you support the person's journey, not become a barrier. People don't want to know about your 10% off sale, if they're looking for the MRT station to get the last train home," he added.

Since the Apple map fiasco, experts agree that the one big advantage Google does have other apps is its familiarity factor and that it exists on most consumer phones.

"Public places like airports, train stations and gardens in Singapore should adopt this platform as it will only serve to enhance the path-finding experience," Jeff Cheong, head of Tribal DDB said.

He adds that this will in the long run increase footfall and commercial activities and provide "endless opportunities" for location-based content and social commentaries to be integrated.

Cutting through the clutter

With a giant like Google muscling into the retail world, what does this mean for the smaller players already present in the mobile app domain? And more importantly, will this add on to the overwhelming clutter consumers already battle with?

The reality, experts noted, is that while there probably is a lot of clutter through branded apps, most people will not really be experiencing it, due to the fact that they have not actually downloaded the apps.

The best way to break through the clutter and be downloaded is to demonstrate how they can make consumers lives easier, more interesting and ultimately more enjoyable, according to Nathan.

"The focus needs to be squarely on the customer experience, as the competition in the retail environment is no longer the store next store or over the road, the competition is now one click away."