GPS. To many, the term conjures the image of the (now) old GPS devices that were mounted to the dash of a car. The ease of availability and accuracy of GPS devices, as well as the low cost of receivers, have made these systems a prime candidate for many different applications for the general populace. Global Positioning System devices are much more than a tool we use in our vehicles to help us get from point a to point b (though they do that quite well), and are used by many industries—transportation, aviation, shipping and rail, science, security, heavy equipment navigation, survey/ mapping/ geophysics, telecommunications, financial services and various social activities (locata.com).
GPS receiver units for travel and navigation were the predecessors of smartphones with maps. Paper maps were the predecessors of GPS. Remember those things? If we go back far enough, paper maps came after etched stone maps (shown on right), which can be first traced back to the Babylonians in 2300 B.C. (Geospatialrevolution.psu.edu). The Babylonians probably never would've thought that their simple tracking of the land around them would eventually lead us to where we are today—taking the physical world we see around us and turning it into geospatial data. What many don’t know is that road navigation devices came to the mass market in the 1980s, well before we even had these mountable or in-dash GPS devices in our vehicles.
Mountable GPS units generally helped (and still help where legal) guide us where we needed to go. The general population do not necessarily think of these systems as a go-to or mainstream any more, now that we have various map apps such as Google Maps or Apple Maps at our side at all times. Google has become so smart that when we ask a question via an “Ok Google” voice search, our answer can show up on a map with an artificial voice answer reply (Google). But just because all of the “cool kids” (or the general majority of the kids) aren’t using it anymore, doesn’t mean these systems aren’t still heavily used for/by niche markets, applications and targeted demographics. GPS devices are still an advancing and developing technology for many consumer applications. In other words, don’t forget about GPS systems just yet when it comes to creating business listings!
Why Do People Still Use GPS Devices and GPS Directories?
Why do we need GPS systems when we have our smartphones nowadays? The general majority that typically relied on the the mountable GPS system for navigation in their vehicles can now find that they have additional options like an evolved factory in-dash system, after-market systems and of course, smartphones. While smartphones may be smart, convenient and just, well, handy, there are still many users that prefer GPS navigational devices in lieu of their smartphones. Why would people still consider using GPS devices? There’s a few main reasons, namely safety, situational feasibility and accessibility.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 injured in vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers in 2015. In addition, the CDC reports that approximately nine people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver each day.
Due to the staggering amount of distracted driving accidents involving personal devices such as cell phones and mountable GPS systems, many states have laws that ban the use of cellular devices and mountable GPS devices while driving. The in-dash factory navigation systems are legal, and those not wanting to risk a distracted driving fine/conviction (depending on the jurisdiction) or accident can use these devices, as long as they are doing it correctly according to the law (consumerreports.org).
Situational Feasibility and Demographics Still Using GPS Directories
Travellers, whether international or not, are an excellent example of those who may opt to use a GPS device over a smartphone. When it comes to travelling longer distances and being unfamiliar with an area, or simply due to the cost of cellular data, some travellers may opt to use the GPS system as a force of habit or simple convenience. GPS systems also categorically find nearby points of interest and reroutes travellers accordingly. If a user needs to fill up with gas, they may just prefer to perform a voice command or get their co-pilot to tap the gas station button and ask the GPS device to recalculate the route. While local search can do the same thing, it’s just not as safe or fast to do if you are driving alone and mounted smartphone GPS is not legal in your state.
More importantly, GPS signals often work in areas where there is no cell phone coverage. This comes from personal experience. While cell phone coverage is getting increasingly better, there are times when users cannot get any service. This is especially true while users are travelling, camping or are in a secluded area. A vehicle’s built-in navigational system will be your go-to when there is no other way to get directions.
A 2015 market report from GNSS shows past and future performance of the various segments of road navigation devices based on shipments worldwide. While smartphones have taken a disruptive popularity in the personal navigation front, use of PNDs will continue to experience a decline, and in-vehicle systems are projected to experience steady growth.
The GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) shipments of in-vehicle systems across the globe outnumbered personal navigational devices for the first time in 2013. In-vehicle navigational systems have experienced a growth of 11% per year in the period of 2009 to 2013. In-vehicle navigational systems will continue to experience growth as automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, GM, Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan continue to integrate these devices with other GNSS services. Below is breakdown of the GNSS industry in the EU and an excellent tool to give an idea of the GNSS competitive landscape.
If it’s already in your vehicle, why not use it? Many new vehicles come with the option for a factory navigation system. Also, there are many aftermarket options for buyers to consider (Edmunds.com). Some systems (and as we see increasingly from major automakers) have smartphone linking ability, the ability to call for help in an emergency and voice commands. If you paid for it, it’s safe and legal to use (properly), then why risk a fine or accident?
Why Businesses Should Care About Being Listed on GPS Directories
Businesses that haven’t considered adding a business listing to a GPS system, should consider creating a listing.
Beat Competitors to The Punch
If you haven’t thought to create a listing on a GPS system, chances are, competitors haven’t thought about it either. If they thought it wasn’t worth their time, even better. Adding or claiming a business listing on GPS systems will mean that the business is now listed where competitors aren’t, and therefore gives consumers a better chance to find them.
Let’s pretend you own a restaurant. A family has been travelling on the road all day. The kids have been arguing in the backseat for the better part of the day after their ipad or phone batteries died. Everyone is tired and hungry. The clever co-pilot hits a category on the navigational device and sees a restaurant category. Your restaurant (because you listed your company to GPS directories) appears and is right at the top of the points of interest that appear. In a click of a button, the family reroutes their trip to your restaurant as their pit stop.
Businesses May Already Be Listed with Incorrect Information
Many GPS systems companies get their information from a data provider. There are a few major data providers that supply data to companies, which includes navigational device companies. If a business doesn’t claim or update their information, the data provider may grab information from old listings or old websites. Even if a company didn’t register their information to a GPS systems company, the wrong information may be in their hands, and customers will get frustrated if they go to find a business via their device and the business isn’t physically in that location when they show up. Incorrect information confuses and frustrates customers, and impacts how customers perceive a business. We wrote this blog about where listings come from that goes into more detail.
Diversify Your Demographic
This may not be applicable to everyone, but chances are that in some cases, users who access GPS navigational devices are not typical consumers whom the business already serves. For restaurant owners and that typically serve the locals, having their business up on a GPS directory could potentially attract your customers outside of whom they normally serve, such as tourists and other passers-by.
It Won’t Boost SEO But...
It has other intrinsic benefits. Yes, we know that SEO is the hot topic right now in the digital marketing space, and for good reason. According to our very own resident SEO and Google Snack Pack expert, Andrew Potter, “The directories that GPS manufacturers devices maintain, including auto manufacturers with their own systems, do not have an indexable website in which their GPS business information is located on. Therefore there is no immediate SEO value."
We were just as sad to hear that it won’t help boost a company’s ranking as you. Just because it doesn’t boost SEO, though, listing a business on GPS directories still provides potential customers with correct contact information. Also, because being listed in GPS systems doesn’t directly boost SEO, many local businesses won’t create a listing, clearing way for meticulous business owners to pull ahead of their competition. Be the only fish in the pond and diversify listing options with GPS directories along with SEO offering.
GPS’ Role in Local Search
Listing diversification isn’t a bad thing. A 2014 study conducted by data provider Neustar Localeze on Cross Device Local Search found that the local search market is fractured and in flux. Customers look for information on different sites and conduct different searches from different devices, including GPS systems (Neustarlocaleze.biz). In 2013, consumers have experienced a rise of GPS technology in their vehicles and on their mobile devices, which is partially due to a growing confidence in GPS technology.
One key finding is that GPS will play a key role in local search in the future. GPS owners stated that they would like to see information such as hours of operation, reviews and offers in addition to their maps and directions (Neustarlocaleze.biz). So let the other fish flock to the same pond while you have one fin in one pond and one tail in the next (you are a talented and flexible fish).
GPS Has Evolved and Will Continue to Do So
When smartphones with all of their navigational capabilities came onto the market, many predicted that they would simply replace GPS units, probably similar to how discmans or walkmans were replaced by the smartphone. However, GPS units for road navigation are still here today and have found a way to grow and adapt as in-dash systems and/or systems that work complementary to smartphones. With more and more auto manufacturers installing them in vehicles, GPS devices aren’t driving off into the sunset any time soon. According to the Consumer Technology Association, by the year 2030, navigational systems will play a vital role in fully autonomous vehicles that will by then be commonplace (cta.tech).
GPS technology, similar to beacon technology, is continuing to develop for other uses such as location based marketing (location based offers). GPS has the potential to co-exist with beacons where beacons are the go-to device for in-store experience opportunities with customers and GPS for the attracting customers outside of the store (searchengineland.com). Whether GPS device manufacturers and auto manufacturers get into the offers game for GPS is not yet known, but the potential exists and (as we know from the Cross Device Local Search study) GPS users are asking for it as well. So, with all of that in mind, don’t be so quick to overlook GPS directories.
What Are We Driving At?
While adding a business listing to GPS directories won’t have an impact on a business’ SEO, there are many other not-so-obvious yet integral benefits that others will likely overlook when it comes to adding a business listing to them. This oversight gives meticulous business owners who do list on them advantages (namely more business listing variation and first-mover listing advantage) above other business owners who do not. Before deciding to add a business listing on a GPS directory, businesses should analyze if it makes sense for their business category/location/industry, to do so. While there are some instances it may not make sense for a business to list on GPS directories (pop-up shops, e-tailers, and, of course, secret societies), there are many businesses across numerous regions, industries and demographics that will be a good fit to add a listing to GPS listing directories.
As more and more auto manufacturers adopt to install in-dash navigation systems in their production lines, the number of GPS users will increase. An increasing amount of people will be using GPS to get where they need to go, and that could be to your business. Basically, if customers are searching or could be searching for your business via a local search, they could be looking for your business via a GPS device as well. Make sure your business is on the map for multiple mediums as we become an increasingly technologically driven, device diverse society.