If you've ever been on Live Search Maps, there's a good chance you've seen some of the advertisements we display on the site. I figured it was time to dive a little deeper into the opportunities that are available to you as a Virtual Earth platform customer (or if you'd like to be one) to increase your reach across our Microsoft mapping properties. There are 3 advisement types that you'll find on the Live Search Maps site, but only one of which we're taking orders for via the Virtual Earth platform licensing group - Highlighted Listings (the other two being Sponsored Listings and Brand Finder are described below, but just for informational purposes). To advertise on Live Search Maps via the Highlighted Listings program send mail to the Virtual Earth Licensing alias (or, yes, you can always email me).
Highlighted Listings allows for additional exposure of your brand through Live Search Maps without tampering with our algorithm to produce the most relevant user results. For example, if you do a search for "Hotels In San Diego, CA" on Live Search Maps you'll get a result set consisting of hotels in the San Diego area; however, the difference is for every Choice Hotels (a subscriber to the Highlighted Listings program) location there's a branded icon for the respective hotel (e.g. Comfort Inns, have the Comfort Inn logo, etc). These logos appear in the result list on the left, in the enhanced roll over and right on the map! As you can see the logos really *POP* on the map versus our rather, eh-hem, mundane orange pushpins. Also as a part of the Highlighted Listings program, the links in the enhanced rollover are clickable and will redirect to a URL of your choosing for each location. That means for each of your locations, you can have the link redirect the user to the exact physical location's web page. So, in the hospitality scenario, you can have the link for each hotel location link to the booking page for that respective hotel. This pushes the user one step closer to booking the hotel.
The program has been hugely successful and I'm sure the current members of the program will be reading this with chagrin since I'm letting their secret out. Also, you can package this with your Virtual Earth licensing agreement. If you're a current customer (or not a customer, but want to be one) you can sign up for Highlighted Listings and at the same time use Virtual Earth's API for your applications! It's a great user experience to be redirected from our Live Search Maps consumer site to a site that's using the same map interface they just left. Again, to advertise on Live Search Maps via the Highlighted Listings program send mail to the Virtual Earth Licensing alias.
For informational purposes I've described Sponsored Listings and Brand Finder below.
The simplest advertising we have on Live Search Maps is Sponsored Listings from Yellow Pages.com. Once you get on their ad platform, you will just appear on Live Search Maps in the text-based ads. Pretty straightforward.
Brand Finder is what we call "discoverable" advertising which means it's always on regardless of your search. For example, if you search for "Banks in San Diego" the Brand Finder icons will be on even though your query may not relate to banking. In the screenshot below, I'm showing the hotel icons - also, licensed by Choice Hotels. Notice the icons on the map are more generic (a hotel icon) and not a branded icon; however, the brand does appear in the enhanced rollover. Brand Finder is something we're still tinkering around with, but haven't launched any kind of full scale business model around.
Make your brand pop.