Giving Direction to MapQuest in Introducing New iPhone Products

MapQuest provides Internet, mobile, and business solutions delivering on the promise of helping people research and discover: where is it, how I get there and what’s nearby. MapQuest is one of the leading mapping brands online, offering maps and directions. 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, Colorado.

The Challenge

At the very beginning of 2009, MapQuest lost its place as the most trafficked online mapping and directions site to Google Maps. While still one of the most valuable properties in the AOL portfolio, and a top 100 traffic site in the U.S., MapQuest was increasingly seen as being behind the times. It had not been adding new features to its online service, or developing products quickly enough, for the rapidly expanding mobile search market. That was about to change. MapQuest planned to introduce two new products for the red-hot iPhone market, MapQuest for Mobile, a free mapping and directions app, and MapQuest Navigator, a turn-by- turn navigation app for the upcoming iPhone OS 3.

The Approach

Complicating the launch planning, however, was Apple’s notoriously slow and opaque app approval process. Since Apple could not provide a firm date for when the new apps would be approved and available in the App Store, Sterling recommended that MapQuest decided to forgo a traditional press release and instead get the word out about the new products by directly contacting top-tier media and by using the company’s blog as a reference point for detailed information on the products.

Prior to the launch, Sterling conducted the following activities:

  • Pre-brief top tier technology bloggers to let them know that the app would be coming.
  • Create a detailed blog post with downloadable images and videos showing how the app worked and its unique features.
  • Initiate a “friends and family” campaign to get early downloads and reviews of the application in the App Store.
  • Target outlets that frequently generate re-postings to maximize reach.

The Results

“MapQuest’s app is a worthy challenger for the iPhone’s built-in mapping application, which is based on Google Maps.” – Frederic Lardinois, ReadWriteWeb

MapQuest for Mobile for iPhone launch activities resulted in:

  • 72 pieces of coverage
  • 18+ million impressions

MapQuest Navigator launch activities resulted in:

  • 119 pieces of coverage
  • 21+ million impressions

Publications covering both launches included: The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Macrumors, Mashable, Engadget, GeekSugar, Gizmodo, Laptop, LifeHacker, MocoNews, ReadWriteWeb, WebProNews and ZDNet.