Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why we take pictures

We're often asked why Nelso sends photographers into the street to photograph businesses, rather than licensing a database of business listings from a company like Localeze, or collecting user-generated content to fill out our database of listings as Google Maps does.

Both of those strategies (licensing a database of business listings and collecting user-generated listings) are valid approaches, and Nelso will take advantage of both of these sources of business listings in the future. However, we still believe strongly in the value of collecting our own business data from staff in the field equipped with GPS-enabled cameras.
  • Many databases of business listings are updated only infrequently, and are very slow to remove closed businesses from that database.
  • Most databases of business listings have incomplete, and even worse, incorrect data.

A good recent example of data that cannot be sourced any other way than through sending out photographers is the McDonald's in the center of Bratislava, Slovakia. We photographed the door of this business, as we usually do, and recorded the hours of operation in our system.

When checking these hours against the hours on the official McDonald's of Slovakia site, we found the following:



If you click on the above image, you can see that even McDonald's official site doesn't have the correct hours for this location. It is actually quite common for us to find errors in a business' own website. Usually, a business puts up a site, and never looks at it ever again, or only infrequently. Thus, even getting business details from a business itself would not result in accurate data. Only collecting the data ourselves will allow us to provide quality data for our users.

2 comments:

Gib Olander said...

Look like Nelso has a unique approach to collecting content. You are spot on with your comment about how difficult and important accurate business listing content is to acquire and maintain for a local search or directory site. At Localeze we are in a constant state of building and validating our database of business content keeping fresh and accurate content in our partners hands is our primary focus. Today we do only aggregate USA business content so I am a little unfamiliar with the data sources abroad. I am glad to read that you are considering using strategy like Licensing the Localeze Local Search database in the future. Please feel free to contact me at anytime if you would like to discuss options.

Jack DeNeut said...

Gib,

Thanks for your comment. As I said, there is value in our data collection approach, but it obviously would be prohibitively expensive to try and scale this approach to cover a country like the United States. Currently, Nelso is only targeting major metropolitan areas, so our data collection process still works, but I don't think it would make economic sense for us to try and collect all our data this way.

In the future, we'd like to take a blended approach, using some data collected by us, and some data licensed from third-party providers like Localeze.