Google Maps is a web-based service which provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites. Almost all websites use embedded Google Maps on their contact page to assist their clients in easily locating their business. I have been using Google Maps for many years and continue to use it. But there have been some major changes recently, which many website owners may take exception to.
Up until now you could set up API integration for Google Maps without needing to add credit card details. However Google has now changed the rules so that all Google Maps accounts need to be linked to a credit card regardless if they fall within the ‘free’ usage levels.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been crunching the numbers and felt that Google Maps is one of their their most under-monetised assets. Google Maps is used by more than a billion users every month, but it seems that it’s not bringing in the kind of revenue that Google want. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai has made a decision to focus on making Maps its next billion dollar business.
If you are using a simple static map, you won’t be affected for now, but we don’t know about the future. Nothing is free forever.
If like most people, your site is using embedded Google Map integration then you will be affected. Google will start disabling Maps if your Google account does not have an avtice credit card.
Naturally, the reactions from developers have been scathing as they are dealing with brunt of these changes from website owners. Its the developers that have to break the bad news to clients for something which is out of their control. So if you are affected by this change, read on.
There is no doubt that Google Maps is great for websites and apps but you now have 2 choices really.
Option 1) The first option is to continue using Google Maps API by setting up your Google account with a valid credit card. If you don’t have a Google account, you will need to create one. Follow the steps below.
If you have multiple location pins or multiple locations for your busineess in one map, then this gets more involved as you will need a separate map for each location. This usually may require a design or layout change to your website to accomodate multiple maps.
There are several alternatives and I have worked with Mapbox, Bing Maps and Open Street Maps. All have their pros and cons and I really like Mapbox, but I have to say that with more than 150 million users access Google Maps monthly and the 72% of market share of Androind smartphones, sticking with Google Maps is possibly the only choice.
If you wish continue to use Google Maps API then here is a summary:
For specific details you should study the the new Google Pricing Sheet. If you can understand the Google Pricing Sheet then congratulations because we find most people find the pricing too complex to understand. As a general rule though the traffic to your site will drive the costs. So consult yours Google Analytics dashboard and look at how much traffic you have directed to pages that contain maps, otherwise you may have to use the “suck it and see” approach to see what your card gets charged.
Don’t forget the cost of involving your developer. Unless you can manage all the changes required yourself, you need to factor in the cost for their time.
Google’s sheer dominance in this space means you really have no practical options other than to hand over your credit card to Google and be done with it. Google have been very supportive, to-date, providing many services for “free”. And since we as users providing our personal data for “free” it all balances out in the end with both parties get a www, “win win win” .
Only is it?