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Thread: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

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    AarthiD's Avatar
    AarthiD is offline Yext Community Manager
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    A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    I'd like to share an awesome post by our own Christian Ward, EVP of Partnerships here at Yext, that I think you'd all find of interest!


    A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    Recently, as we surveyed the blogs, news articles, and other information sources out there about the local marketing ecosystem, we realized there was an entire dimension not being addressed: impact and control.

    Local Data
    At Yext, we are always looking for insightful articles or presentations about local data to share with our geomarketing partners.

    One mainstay of the local data ecosystem discussion has been the article and diagram created by David Mihm of MOZ. While there are dozens of other similar diagrams, this particular one is an excellent primer on how many of the data platforms, publishers, and aggregators connect throughout the local data ecosystem. The diagram has been referenced repeatedly over the years, and Mihm is kind enough to update the chart regularly.

    A Closer Look
    We decided to look into the local data ecosystem more thoroughly. [...]
    What do you think?


    Last edited by Linda Buquet; 09-17-2014 at 07:18 AM. Reason: Image added by Linda
    I'm a Yext employee with the Certified Partner Team.

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
    Linda Buquet is offline Community Leader - Google Local Specialist
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    Thanks Aarthi, what a unique take on the local ecosystem, really enlightening!

    I added the image to your post, because it totally puts a different perspective on things. (Pun intended!)

    FYI guys, the video Christian did that explains it, is well worth watching too.

    What do you think of this bird's eye view of the local ecosystem???
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    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

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    Phil Rozek's Avatar
    Phil Rozek is offline Top Contributor
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    Interesting. I like the concept. My only gripe is that the diagram doesn't illustrate the direct relationship between the data-aggregators (e.g. InfoGroup) and Google. It's a little reductive. Still a nice visual aid, though.
    Dustybones likes this.

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    wardchristianj is offline EVP, Partnerships at Yext
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    Phil,

    Appreciate your feedback and your thoughts on this. I think the question of data sources versus data control (especially with respect to publishers) is the point of this diagram. When you submit data to the data aggregators, that data does not directly control anything on Google (or any other site for that matter, except maybe their own if they have a directory).

    That is neither a slight on the aggregators, nor a bad thing; rather, it's just a fact. If you were to ask an aggregator directly about their ability to control what shows up on a publisher, such as Google, they would never state that they had that ability, nor will they ever guarantee results. (In fact, their TOS usually states that they won’t guarantee results to control or "fix" the data downstream.) The diagram illustrates this, which, I think is a nuance sometimes misunderstood by the industry.

    Data aggregators have the very difficult job of creating massive base files -- sometimes with more than 30 million records of businesses in them -- for sale to the publishers, marketers, and many other buyers of data. As such, they serve a vital need in the ecosystem alongside all the other sources of data out there. However, "control" is definitely not something they provide to those looking to correct their data.

    In addition, aggregators are no more of a direct source of data than any other source. Publishers ultimately choose what sources trump or “rank” higher in their process, but the concept of direct really doesn’t mean anything to them. In other words, if Google or any publisher receives a direct business listing from crawling that businesses’ website, that doesn’t necessarily have any weaker signal strength than if they receive the business from a data aggregator in a batch file. In fact, crawls are (and continue to become) a major source of data. Are they any less direct?

    I am not saying, 'You shouldn’t try and provide data in as many locations as possible.' Quite the opposite; I support that practice from a data dissemination perspective. However, there are significant differences to how these systems work, and the original "spaghetti diagram" doesn’t show that. It tends to imply, via its three different arrow widths, that there is some sort of preference or direct path of importance; I would caution that the data aggregators were probably not the source of that perception.

    Beyond that, the practice of broad dissemination without control is typically where most of the duplicative listings can come from, because the entity who cares the most (namely: the business itself or their representative) has submitted their data to a process they no longer control. With stiff competition to have better or more accurate data in selling large files, each aggregator has an incentive to “add value” and change data to ensure quality. While this is a great endeavor, it causes significant differences in base data from aggregator to aggregator, resulting in the mass distribution of different data sets for businesses. In short, imagine what would happen to the aggregator’s business if they all had the exact same data? They themselves would not be able to compete on anything but price, and the market would likely decline in a race to the bottom.

    Going back to the compilation process, Google's database creation and compilation process is one of the most informed and complex in the industry, and it's truly amazing just how many sources they must have worked into their compilation process by now. When a data aggregator feed is provided to Google, it is one of thousands (truthfully: more likely it's one of millions) of sources taken into algorithmic consideration. Furthermore, each of the aggregators typically maintains their own compilation process using data provided by businesses before sending the data to Google or any other publisher in the industry. This means that the data you submit to an aggregator is often not the same data ultimately delivered in their files.

    The best description of how this works can be seen in the following video we did last March, in honor of the March Madness NCAA Basketball tournament. As I was following the tournament, the constant display of the brackets and the teams moving on gave me the example to help explain data compilation at every publisher and at every aggregator.


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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    This is so fascinating to me and there is so much more to the whole back end data dissemination and propagation piece than most of us realize. Just truly eye opening for me to start understanding more about how all of this really works.

    Thanks for explaining Christian!
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    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

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    Phil Rozek's Avatar
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    Thanks, Christian.

    What I was getting at is the "When a data aggregator feed is provided to Google..." factor didn't jump out at me. I realize that doesn't mean that the data-aggregators "control" what shows up on Google Places. Their overall influence seemed under-emphasized to me. But you've certainly crawled around in the guts of the aggregators more than I have

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    bczubiak is offline Member GMB++
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    Re: A 3D View of the Local Data Ecosystem

    I am really disappointed at the data aggregators and other directories who make it into the top 50 most important business directories. They are doing a really poor job of keeping their databases clean and de-duped. Sometimes I think that most of these guys are storing their data in Excel files being managed by a junior programmer.

    It's hard to believe the level of duplication that exists in sites like Citysearch, Yahoo Local and others. I've managed databases with well over 100 million plus records and my job was to keep it dupe free. Developing a good matchkey and import code is essential.

    Now we have to spend hours and hours cleaning up the mess that was created or pay companies to do it for us. Why can't all these guys get together and have a summit or something and work this thing out? I think some sort of data standard is in order here. Does anybody see this duplicate listing issue getting better? Do you think your bank could operate at this level? (These examples below are not my clients.)


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