Yahoo Boosts Maps Imagery, Advertising

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Yahoo Local aims to compete with Google Earth by adding satellite and aerial imagery to Yahoo Maps, the company said yesterday.


The beta program allows users of Yahoo Maps to view U.S. locations, including cities, towns and major land features in medium resolution. Internationally, they can see 15-meter pixel views (medium resolution) of major roads and cities, and, different from its competitors, rivers and railroads.


"That is not something that is out there yet [the demarcation of railroad and rivers]. It's hard to surf the globe with all this satellite data. You have no idea where you are," said Michael Lawless, product manager, Yahoo Maps.


"The satellite imagery brings Yahoo on par with what Google and Microsoft are doing. It's a very strong mapping product," said Greg Sterling, principal of newly formed local advertising consultancy Sterling Market Intelligence, San Francisco.


Still, both Yahoo Maps and Google Earth do not show closer, road views like the satellite technology offered by Amazon's A9.com search engine. "Ultimately, what people are going to want to see is street-level views," Sterling said.


However, both Google and Yahoo are partnering with advertisers to monetize their satellite imagery and maps. Google just integrated local business ads into Google Maps, and Yahoo displays sponsored listing when consumers search in Maps.


In addition, Yahoo plans to integrate its Biz Locator ads into its Maps service soon, Mr. Lawless said.


Also Wednesday, Yahoo added a travel search engine that displays both fares and information from Yahoo sites, including integrating the new satellite imagery from Yahoo Maps.


Yahoo FareChase is billed as "one trusted travel source" that displays prices and travel insights in one search location.


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