TechCrunch Interview: Marissa Mayer Reveals The Two Pillars Of Google's Local Strategy

Today during her keynote talk at Social Loco, Google VP of Location and Local Services Marissa Mayer outlined some of the core goals driving Google’s local and location strategies, and how social will tie into that. The gist: Google wants to create serendipitous experiences, and to present you with contextually relevant information before you even search for it. But there are still plenty of questions — and we got a chance to ask her about some of them.

Soon after her talk, we sat down with Mayer for a ten-minute interview, where we discussed a range of topics including the scalability of Google Business Photos, the problems facing Google Latitude, and how Google Places is going to differentiate itself from Yelp in the future.

Some interesting points from the video:

  • Google Business Photos, which were just announced today, are essentially ‘Street View’ for business interiors. At this point Google is only using professional photographs, but Mayer hinted (though wouldn’t confirm) that users would eventually be able to submit photos themselves.
  • Mayer says that Google Hotpot, with its personalized recommendations, was one of the first features used to differentiate Places from Yelp. There will be much more along these lines.
  • When I asked how Google would incentivize users to rate venues, Mayer said that it’s easy to distribute the reviews you leave (you can Tweet them, etc.). And your reviews show up in friends’ search results on Google. “We’re also working to make the check-in and ratings experiences even more seamless on the phone”, Mayer says. Off-camera Mayer also pointed out that the majority of content submitted on other services are left by a small percentage of users, so it’s okay if not everyone is leaving reviews.
  • Latitude has over 10 million users, but Mayer concedes that its engagement isn’t very high. Google is working on ways to fix this (deals and offers, linked to check-ins).

Mayer also explained how Google’s location strategy is supported by two pillars: Places and Maps. Instead of launching numerous new location-focused products, it sounds like Google will keep integrating them into these two apps.

We also get to the bottom of the infamous Hotpot name. Tune in for all of the details.