People have strongly criticized Google for confusing local marketers by having two places to update and enhance local business information (Google Places, Google+ Local Pages). But there’s also something confusing about what Microsoft appears to be doing in local listings management.
The company appeared to be trying to establish the Bing Business Portal as the definitive place to claim, correct or enhance local business information on Bing. But Microsoft’s relationship with Nokia has complicated things.
Nokia has a comparable local listings on-boarding mechanism called “Nokia Prime Place.” Prime Place is an entry point for local data and listings management for Nokia Maps. Here’s how Nokia describes the role of Prime Place:
Prime Place enables business owners to add their business listing free of charge to Nokia Maps on web and mobile, share opening hours, website and contact details, and add lots of images to show what their business or service is all about, and why you can’t miss to visit! This provides Nokia customers with lots of unique businesses that can be discovered, wherever you are, and helps you to be a local anywhere.
It sounds pretty duplicative of the intended functions of Bing Business Portal.
Nokia Maps has a growing network of partners, including Yahoo, Amazon, Yandex and others — including, of course, Microsoft. Indeed, Bing Maps is increasingly intertwined with and dependent on Nokia’s mapping infrastructure and data. Where Bing Maps stop and Nokia Maps begin is getting harder to determine.
All of this might not be an issue were it not for something curious I noticed a few weeks ago after doing some local searching on Bing. After conducting a search for hotels in New York, for example, you’ll see results that look like this:
There’s nothing unusual there. However if you scroll to the bottom of those results this is what you see (red box is my emphasis):
There’s no mention of the Bing Business Portal. Microsoft appears to be directing people to Nokia Prime Place to “add or change” business listings. Because the two entry points appear to be duplicative or redundant it made me think that Nokia Prime Place might be replacing the Bing Business Portal, into which Microsoft has invested a great deal of effort and presumably resources.
There’s also the question of “who owns the content?” If Nokia is the primary point of entry or contact for local data then Nokia is the primary owner of the local listings and data relationship. Microsoft may or may not understand this as a problem.
I queried Microsoft about all this last week. I directly asked whether the Bing Business Portal was being replaced by Nokia Prime Place or for clarification about the precise relationship between the two sites. I received a polite “no comment” from Microsoft (no sarcasm intended; they were in fact quite polite).
Reading between the tea leaves, so to speak, this may mean Microsoft is currently trying to decide or figure out what the relationship should be. Or perhaps it is sunsetting the Bing Business Portal. Alternatively, maybe the two local data entry points will coexist in some strange and awkward way going forward.
Many people may be unaware of this “conflict” and so confusion hasn’t risen to the level of “public outcry” that we’ve seen with Google local listings management. However I’m confused.
Let us know if you know anything further about all this.