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Google Puts A Limit On Google Maps API, Bad News for Travel?

31 October 2011 BY

It looks as if Google is (partly) changing the way they are making money. Where before they made money by advertising or sponsored items in their specific products (think for example the sponsored listings in local), they now are charging for products or usage of API.

Where the launch of the paid version of Google Analytics and the according to some related ssl-issue already gave people some topics to talk about, Google now has announced it will be monetizing yet another one of their products: starting January 1 2012 Google will be putting a limit on the free usage of the Google Maps API.

Late last week Google announced on the Google Developers Blog they are putting a usage limit on the usage of the Google Maps API for 25.000+ hits per day.

This means that if you have a website with one or more Google Maps on it you will be able to get 25000 people per day taking a look at that map before you have to start paying.

Google didn’t announce how much you will have to be paying, but there is rumor that developers using more than the free limit will begin paying $4 per 1,000 pageviews.

Is this a big deal?

The question is whether or not this should concern us. If you look at the number of requests per day which you are allowed you will know that ordinary websites who use Google Maps on their contact pages to show where they are located won’t be affected by this. It is only for those with high number of visitors on their map pages. This is is also stressed by the Google Maps API Twitter account:

Bigger sites will have to be looking at the way how they are using Google Maps. If they put it on their homepage chances are they might hit the limit rather quickly, so they will probably ‘tuck it away’ somewhere on the site.

The biggest pill to swallow will be for those who have their sites based on what Google Maps can do. Take for example sites which are about specific events like the Tour de France, or travel sites who want to point out where specific destinations are.

Travel gets hit

Google’s move could very well be explained as another hit for travel sites from Google, and by some sites it will be seen as just that. There are many travel sites out there which make extensive usage of Google Maps. Even sites which have a small Google Map next to each location they offer to their visitors.

If the site is rather large (take Tripadvisor) and they have maps near their locations the limit (“up to 25,000 map loads per day for each API”) can be reached rather quickly. How big the number of sites is that will be ‘hit’ by this remains to be seen. As said above, the Google team thinks it will only affect the top 0.35% sites, but I think that number might be a bit higher. It could also push travel sites away from Google.

The bigger picture

In the bigger picture however this change is another indication that Google is looking at different ways of monetizing their products. If you know how Google works this is a fundamental change to their monetization model. With two of these changes shortly after another and the fact that they are also rapidly cutting away those products which are not successful (think Buzz for example) it is an indication that Google is changing rapidly.

On the other side it makes sense for Google. They have been trying hard to monetize maps and local for a while now and the furthest they have come so far is sponsored map markers and in-map ads. They are pushing specific products like local harder, so it fits right into the strategy they have been showing over the past six months.

AUTHORED BY:
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Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
  • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

    Again, I’m not happy with the way Google has done this. Yes I understand Google is chasing after money – apparently the dozens of billions they’re earning right now isn’t enough to satisfy the endless voracious greed of their investors – but this is yet another low blow.

    First they give away something for free, and encourage other businesses to use those free tools to improve their systems. Then they suddenly decide to charge for it, effectively levying a pretty hefty fee on all those businesses that build part of their success on Google’s free tools. It doesn’t give those businesses any choice: either pay Google, or pay substantial development cost to switch to another free system.

    It could have been implemented in a much friendlier way, over a longer period of time, thus allowing online businesses to make whatever transition they require. Instead they just shove this down everybody’s throat and fully expect us to swallow.

    It’s painfully obvious that Google really doesn’t give a shit about users. Money and greed are their only driving forces. They’re right up there with the bonus-grabbing bankers as far as I’m concerned.

    • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

      I think Google really believes they are implementing this in a friendly way… They say only a few sites get hit because the limit is so high. Chances are the limit will be lowered in a later stage.

      • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

        I think that’s part of the problem: Google has its metaphorical head so far up it’s own anal orifice, it has no concept at all of the effects of their lecherous grab for a bigger slice of the internet pie. They really need to get out more.

  • http://Chitika.com Vik Chhabra

    Chitika offers a free map that can not only be used to map a specific location(s), but you can also monetize the map (ad pins) if you’re looking for an additional revenue channel.

    http://chitika.com/maps

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