‘Search Starts Here’: Christian Dwyer on MapQuest’s Reinvention

At last year’s annual conference, we unveiled our new Local Search Association brand to better reflect the direction our member companies were heading. Christian Dwyer, senior vice president and general manager of MapQuest, spoke this afternoon about their own transformation and rebranding to address similar realities.

After about 15 years online and as a historically preferred site for directions, in 2010 MapQuest was no longer the go-to site for all consumers. They needed to commit to a transformation in order to grow. As we did at Local Search, they unveiled a new logo and website to better represent their character and what they hoped to achieve. But this was just the beginning of their larger reinvention.

As we’ve been hearing in nearly every session, mobile is where search growth is headed. MapQuest had been in the mobile space since 2004, but rebuilt their apps and offered them to users for free. Consumers today are searching on the go and could easily go elsewhere if the app cost or was difficult to navigate. MapQuest found news ways to monetize this platform and invested in voice guided turn-by-turn capabilities to differentiate themselves from their immediate competitors. Now, MapQuest is among the top 20 mobile brands according to comScore, changing how influencers and users think about the company.

In addition to expanding their mobile offerings, MapQuest started thinking about how they could help users figure out where to go (as opposed to just how they can get there). They launched MapQuest Vibe for cities and neighborhoods, allowing search for categories or subcategories in specific areas. And as more users are participating, the content is continuing to improve.

What struck me when Christian was talking about components to optimize MapQuest detailed pages is how much it echoes some of the best IYP listings:

  • Hours
  • Pricing
  • Contacts
  • Directions
  • User feedback
  • Neighborhood context
  • Merchant messages

Mapquest has certainly been busy reinventing themselves: new logo, new website with an improved user experience, a free mobile app with 14 million users each month, even growing into social media with Pinterest integration to share trips – as opposed to destinations. I look forward to seeing what else they have in store.


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