Google Maps

Grand Canyon Street View.

One of my favorite places on planet earth is the Grand Canyon. I’ve been multiple times, and I know I’ll continue to head back for as long as I can. I find the canyon absolutely breath taking. Two things I have done that I highly recommend if you ever go; take a helicopter tour that lands you close to the river bed, and ride the mules to the bottom of the canyon. Seriously ride the mule train to the bottom and back.

Now, if you haven’t been, and or can’t go to the Grand Canyon, Google is mapping the entire canyon with special street view back packs. The new Street View images will cover more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads.

The promo video below is really nice with loads of time-lapse footage capturing the scenic beauty of the national park, but the actual maps site is even better. On the maps site you can navigate your way through trails and across the rugged terrain, or you can take a look behind the scenes to see how Google is putting this together. I hope Google does more of this kind of thing. What a great way to use the technology.

The Google Maps Game.

Venable Bell & Partners and 1st Ave Machine, have created a giant urban maze game in the shape of a six foot cube for Google Maps. The gigantic yellow cube, uses two players to navigate a blue ball across the urban maze by rolling and tilting the cube. It’s hard to get a sense of the size this until the camera pulls away at the end. This is a fun little video to promote the new “Maps Game” from Google.

Google+ Social Potential for Brands

If you were an advertiser, brand manager, marketer, or anyone with a product to sell which would you choose, Google+ or Facebook? Facebook continues to deal with privacy concerns, and Google, whose track record isn’t exactly what I would call squeaky clean knows more about your online habits than just about anyone.

If I had a product to sell, I would probably start banking on Google+. With so much potential consumer data moving through the Googlesphere it seems to make sense; and even thought Google is up against an 800 pound gorilla, Google + holds enough consumer data that brands will love to get in bed with them.

Know doubt all of this will hinge on Google+’s ability to manage its own privacy issues, and whether or not Google + will fail like Google Wave did. Google is desperate to become more social, and Facebook is going to have a hard time overcoming some of Google’s advantages.

Within hours after the Google+’s launch, you started to see a few, mainly tech-related blogs, creating brand profiles in the Google+ space. The thing is though, Google+ profiles aren’t really set up for brands, products or companies. Google+ profiles ask a bunch of questions that are far more applicable to actual humans. Things like are you male or female. This created some initial confusion in the social networking world, which was quickly addressed by Google VP of Products, Bradley Horowitz:

”Let me be clear – and I’m sorry if this wasn’t obvious – we are not currently supporting brands, organizations, and non-human entities in the Google+ field trial.

Supporting these non-human entities is an obviously great feature – we have no allergy to it at all! It’s just not part of the system we are currently testing.”

But if we look back at the short life Facebook has had, neither did thy when they first launched. I can’t believe that Google hasn’t already determined the potential of this network, and isn’t already developing ways to extend advertising reach within this space. Google is a smart company that truly understands the clout their advertising arm wields.

Here are some things to think about with Google+. Things that could be huge benefits to companies and organizations wanting to push their brand position.

Google Maps: Since many brands have physical locations, it makes sense to offer some type of Google Maps inclusion in Google+, especially when Google+ is optimized for mobile phones and tied to your online data.

Google Offers: When Google Offers rolls out everywhere, this will become one of the hottest points for companies and brands promoting their goods and services. Brands may want to call out active offers and cross populate them to other sections and pages based on your shopping history, and browsing history.

Google+ Sparks: This is a powerful feature that I hope Google continues to develop. In the right space, companies. organizations, or brands could feature Sparks related to their line of products or services.

Remember when your Grandpa used to cut articles out of the paper and send them to you? That was nice. That’s kind of what Sparks does: looks for videos and articles it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something to watch, read, and share. Grandpa would approve.

The Google +1 Button: Brands have official websites, and those websites can benefit from receiving +1’s right on their profile page.

MINI Maps for Facebook.

If you are my Facebook friend, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably know that my MINI was in an accident this weekend when I was rear-ended by a truck on I-35. I am missing my MINI this morning, especially since my rental car is a Nissan Cube. Sorry it’s just not the same driving experience.Anyway, this morning I found a link to the new MINI driving game for Facebook in my inbox and decided to check it out.

Mini France has just launched a Social Networking / Google Maps mash-up “Advergame” called “Mini Maps“.The Facebook application was built using Flash, and basically allows you to customize your MINI, and then challenge friends anywhere in the world to race. Using Google Maps as your race track, the roads are actual satellite images of the city you choose for your backdrop. I loaded the app and took my MINI for a spin around Kansas City this morning.

The application which was developed by the guys at DDB Paris & Unit9 were able to add in a number of features to the game, like weather conditions, day and night scenarios, as well as the ability to unlock new cars and customize the car you are driving. The application is slow to load, and is finicky about the browser you use. But the application itself is pretty slick. This yet another great example where Facebook is blurring the line between advertising, entertainment, and social networking.

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