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News & Press: Colorado Technology Industry

“MapQuest Vibe” Launches to Connect Consumers with the Best Local Experiences

Thursday, October 13, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Wendy Nkomo
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Algorithmic Rankings Help Consumers Better Engage on a Local Level

DENVER (October 13, 2011) – MapQuest, a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL), today announced the launch of "MapQuest Vibe” (beta), which generates and features real-time rankings of neighborhoods, local hotspots and points-of-interest using sophisticated algorithms. Helping people become a local, anywhere, the product can be found atwww.mqvibe.comand is the latest feature by the 15-year veteran of online maps, directions and local discovery.

"MapQuest Vibe helps people cut through the ratings clutter by providing actual rankings based on key criteria within a richer neighborhood context,” said Vijay Bangaru, vice president of product, MapQuest. "Presenting neighborhood data in a structure that’s enhanced by geographic context is critical to accelerating exploration of what’s around you. We believe we have a unique platform to give people contextually relevant information that helps them make decisions.”

MapQuest’s community of more than 39 million unique visitors each month* creates a large user base for this new, social-algorithmic platform. Leveraging 10 years of MapQuest search logs, mqVibe provides a unique neighborhood perspective through rankings of restaurants, shopping, services and cultural attractions, among other significant insights.

MapQuest Vibe Features + Functionalities
Vibe Score: The Vibe Score is a proprietary ranking used to profile 50,000 neighborhoods, 27,000 cities and 50,000 hotspots within MapQuest Vibe. To help put rankings into perspective, each score is generated by interactions on MapQuest.com, cartographic analysis and user signals to derive proprietary MapQuest neighborhood characteristics such as:
-Popularity: A measurement of how many visitors come to the neighborhood compared with other neighborhoods in the state
-Going Out: The variety, quantity, and quality of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues in the neighborhood
-Residential: A comparison of the number of homes in the neighborhood with the number of businesses
-"Burby”: The neighborhood’s commercialized nature considering things like the prevalence of national chains
-Edgy: Determination of how likely an area has grittier or colorful aspects of urban society in that neighborhood
-Walkability: A guide to how easy it is to access common daily amenities in the neighborhood without needing to drive to a place

Vibe Rank: Vibe Score is compiled through a variety of Vibe Ranks on restaurants, shopping, services and more, as well as the hotspots. Through a number of different signals, MapQuest Vibe ranks POIs and the neighborhoods that contain them based on the social and local interactions.

Voting: MapQuest Vibe’s voting system allows individuals to vote up or down a local business. Unlike traditional ratings sites, these votes combine with underlying walkability, popularity, going out nature, edginess, and burbiness scores, to ultimately create the comprehensive Vibe Score. Voting also influences the location of local hotspots, causing new ones to appear and old ones to change shape or disappear.

Sharing: The game framework harnesses social and local influence, as well as overall engagement, allowing the individual’s experience to be easily shared with friends and the community via Facebook.

"When you think about it, neighborhoods are fuzzy by nature – constantly changing as businesses come in and out of service and people’s interests shift,” said Simon Hill, principal product manager, MapQuest. "MapQuest Vibe evolves in the same way, providing current information to help people feel like a local wherever they are and wherever they visit. Additionally, the voting mechanism helps create wider local community purpose that reflects the online, social and physical reality of urban communities.”

Context: Local business can compete with similar businesses at the local hotspots level – such as the restaurants across the street – as well as at the neighborhood or city levels. The ranking’s rise or fall at different levels lends a merchant real feedback that can help drive business changes and decisions. Discovery is easily facilitated by searching for a neighborhood, by category and by type.

How MapQuest Vibe Works
MapQuest Vibe is easy to use by:
-Visiting www.mqvibe.com, which automatically populates the user’s current city or neighborhood
-Looking up neighborhoods directly with the "find” field in the site’s upper right corner; neighborhoods immediately reflect the most popular and most frequented hotspots or clusters of businesses on streets, intersections and within town centers
-Determining the best-ranked businesses in each of the following categories: dining out, shopping, activities, beauty and spas, local services, health and med, and lodging and accommodations
-Supporting and following the preferred points of interest by liking them and voting for or against them
-Spreading the word about these places on Facebook by sharing the vote

MapQuest Vibe: The Local, Social, Mobile Experience
MapQuest Vibe can be reached via mqVibe.com or by clicking the "neighborhoods” button on MapQuest.com. Some 54 percent of MapQuest’s 6.6 million daily inquiries are for destinations within 25 miles of a person’s point of origin.** MapQuest reaches one in five Internet users**and, with the majority searching for local information, it serves as a perfect platform for a deep integration of the new mqVibe product. The data becomes more robust, providing more accurate rankings and helping people make better, individualized decisions.

"Our users have long been using MapQuest to discover what’s in and around their area, but with more than 18 million domestic points of interest, we felt there was a need to dive deeper into what we could deliver to our users,” said Christian Dwyer, general manager and senior vice president, MapQuest. "MapQuest Vibe takes that enormous pool of information and helps people make better decisions on what appeals to them using the social heart and wisdom of the crowds.”

Frequently accessed through a mobile device, local information leads to local experiences thus driving the need for a smartphone and mobile web app for MapQuest Vibe. Both are planned to launch in the near future, including additional elements such as deals, gamification and check-ins.

*comScore, September 2011
**Internal data

# # #

About MapQuest
MapQuest provides Internet, mobile and business solutions delivering on the promise of helping people research and discover: where is it, how to get there and what’s nearby. MapQuest is one of the leading mapping brands online, offering maps and directions, and reaching more than 39.0 million users in September 2011, according to comScore Media Metrix. MapQuest’s mobile solutions are compatible with a variety of mobile devices, including iPhone and BlackBerry devices. MapQuest, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc., is based in Denver, Colo.

Media Contact:Jennifer Asbury, 303-298-5331, jennifer.asbury@mapquest.com


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