Wikimapia, Google's Green Summer and Marketing Mashups

I2m_googlegreensummer Wikimapia is one of the most recent mashups with Google maps getting a lot of love on del.icio.us lately.  The site is a global effort to get people to describe the places they live in the same way that Wikipedia has become a global encyclopedia of knowledge on nearly every topic in the world.  The site has some smart features, such as the ability to describe each place in multiple languages, and the request to all contributors to "please only add places that are interesting to everyone."  In a less globally ambitious effort, Google recently launched their "Have a Green Summer" site in partnership with the Earth Day Network to highlight "green" activities and locales in five big cities.  This is the first Google initiated mashup, but represents a new trend that marketers will soon latch onto.  The power of the mashup is not just for geek bloggers trying to find others blogging in the same vicinity.  As Google’s recent effort shows, it can form the basis for a powerful marketing tool.  Hotels will be able to give travellers a wide variety of information on their location and what is closeby.  In car GPS systems will be able to draw on this user contributed data to offer more than just simple directions from point A to point B.  Along the way, businesses will start to see significant traffic from people using these tools to make their decisions on where to go, what to see and where to stay.  In short, mashups with mapping technology will change the online travel industry. 

Through the ambition of projects like Wikimapia, the power of the mashup will not be limited to the travel industry.  From store locators to planning shopping outings that stop and multiple destinations, there is a clear retail tie-in.  Fashion tips on what to wear to particular destinations and where to get them are other potential mashup uses for retailers looking to start using mashups in marketing.  I will be on the lookout for the first really smart mobile marketing promotion that gets consumers to upload location based information into a centralized map that produces a mashup of consumer generated content with a comprehensive map.  Marketing with mashups is just getting started.

For a comprehensive list of the Google Mashups out there, check out Google Maps Mania, the unofficial blog "tracking the websites, mashups and tools being influenced by Google Maps."  Here are a few of the hundreds of mashups that the site has in its sidebar:

World Cup Team Scream – People screaming for their teams, linked on a map
Earthbooker.net – Mashup with Google Maps and Hotels.com
Jacktracker – A mashup that tracks the location of Jack Bauer, hero of the Fox show "24"

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