Google Maps has overtaken AOL’s MapQuest in terms of unique visitors — with 42.2 million monthly uniques in January, to MapQuest’s 41.5 million — according to the latest stats from *comScore*. It’s the first time Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps has attracted more traffic than MapQuest, though there have been signs that the milestone was around the bend:
— Google’s grabbing marketshare, too: Last week, Hitwise analyst Heather Hopkins noted that Google Maps was catching up to MapQuest in terms of market share — a different benchmark, but still a viable indicator of scale. MapQuest’s lead over Google Maps had slipped to just 1.6 percent in the first week of January. That trend didn’t hold, as MapQuest regained an 11 percent lead four weeks later, but it’s still down significantly from a year ago, when Hitwise data showed that MapQuest owned about 50 percent of the market to Google’s 22 percent. Since then, MapQuest’s share has plummeted to 39 percent and Google’s hovers at about 35 percent. And while sources tell SEL’s Greg Sterling that MapQuest still trumps Google Maps in terms of time spent on site (i.e. user engagement), the fact that Google Maps is now attracting more unique visitors (which is likely to continue) is worth noting.
More after the jump…
— Why map search matters: It’s not just about finding directions, it’s about ad revenues. Both Google and MapQuest run a variety of ads alongside and within their map results — Google runs text
and video ads, MapQuest has text and display — meaning that both clicks and page views count. More unique visitors for Google means potentially more clicks and impressions — and if Google starts stealing them away from MapQuest altogether, then that’s one more revenue stream that dries up for AOL (NYSE: TWX). Online maps also serve as jumping-off points for other services across both companies’ online ecosystems: Google Maps links back to Google.com’s core search page, to Gmail, Calendar and its local business listings; MapQuest links to back to AOL.com and AOL Mail, not to mention the business listings powered by AT&T’s YellowPages.com.
Updated: Google currently allows users and businesses to upload videos to various locations within Google Maps, but they aren’t paid advertisements.