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"Get Rid of Street View, only Matterport"4600

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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
I served a wonderful customer last week and provided them with both a Google Street View Tour and a Matterport Tour along with photographs. The customer had contacted me via the Google Street View program and I had offered him a free Matterport tour in addition to his Street View Tour as per my marketing.

After publishing his tours, he was quite thrilled with the Matterport Tour and it's single point of entry and how it looked on his website. He has been calling me daily with issues related to Street View.

My client's issues are:

#1) He wants a 'See Inside' button, which I no longer advertise, but he sees on other businesses. Google terminated this feature prior to the API release.

#2) He only wants 2-3 images showing up as entry points - and he wants to pick them and how they display. Google terminated this feature prior to the API release and has been showing ALL of the 360s in a tab when submitted via the API. Previously, one could create multiple 'constellations' and set the start image and position for each constellation and would only display those as 360s. To make things worse, Google claims that they calculate which should be the first and where the tour should start.

Just to give you a picture -- that left column below goes through all 50 or so of his 360s ... many of them face a wall.




These are the first 3 images that Google shows the world:




@Alin at GoThru.com believes that he has found a way to specify the order and has received approval from Google. This is a good thing -- however, it does not solve the fact that my customer is now asking for his entire tour to be removed and replaced instead with a single pano.

--

This raises 3 points:

#1) Will Matterport provide us with a 'Remove Streetview Tour' button?
#2) Will Matterport provide us with a way to only post 1 pano to Street View?
#3) Will Google recognize that our customers want proper service and do not like hearing 'Oh, I'm sorry we can't do that anymore because Google changed things.'

The Google Street View program is exciting to be a part of, but the changes recently have been extremely challenging to work with. @Alin and @PanoSkin have been amazing to the community in providing the best solutions to combat the changes, but I believe that even they are limited in being able to serve us as they would like.

Food for thought.
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DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
@Metroplex360

On behalf of a Member watching the live stream from the 2017 Google Street View Summit, I ask the Google panel about "See Inside" ... The short answer: it is NOT coming back. Period.

For Matterport to be certified as Google Street View VR Ready, they MUST include a "Remove Street View Tour" button.

Dan
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Panoskin private msg quote post Address this user
You can't control what Google displays and how they display it no matter how bad you'd like to :-) nevertheless, being listed on Google and having an optimized places page is necessary. How much you show and whether or not 360's mąke a difference is the question. That's why @Panoskin we track the actually data.
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jfantin private msg quote post Address this user
Sometimes being in the "end of the world" (I mean, Argentina) helps a lot when all those changes are taking place so quickly.

During the last two years the adoption rate of GSV in my country has been very slow with shop owners not understanding the benefits of being featured with images in Google Search and Google Maps.

The good thing is that as the GSV adoption rate gets momentum, the new customers will not ask for features that no longer exist (like "see inside" and "custom entry point".

Of course, this reduces the service's value because you cannot provide any of those, but nevertheless the increasing rate of use of mobile devices for searching and chosing places to eat and shop represents a potential increase in business volume for those working with GSV.

Will Matterport represent an opportunity? It remains to be seen. Matterport is slow for capturing images and sometimes this is a constraint. The same applies for very large places.

The way I see it, Matterport will be perfect for small and mid size places and not so competitive for the larger ones.

I know that you will save a lot during the editing and publishing process, but sometimes the time constraint comes from the customer who doen´t want to have you working during 10 hours to cover 12,000 sq ft.

Time will tell...
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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
The gold rush to post to Street view is interesting as Google's platform leaves a lot to be desired.

@Panoskin the removal of see inside is sad, but the complete jumble that is the 360s tab is a serious problem.

Folks, imagine if Matterport did not allow us to set a start point. Imagine if iGuide automatically generated a thumbnail bar with random order and positioning.

Sometimes I feel a bit insane when it comes to Street view.

@DanSmigrod I am glad you asked about see inside. I still cannot fathom what Google intends to offer that is better.
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armstrongc private msg quote post Address this user
Hi Chris.

All reasonable observations about Street View's limited support for tours today. The recent summit in Tokyo was a great opportunity for many of us on the team to hear, first-hand, how you'd prioritize these requests relative to the many others coming from the community. It's clear that these improvements will further carry Street View beyond ground-level exploration to better serve professional tour providers. Among the top requests we're either already working on or looking into supporting:

1. Ranking improvements, based on connectivity, quality, and recency.
2. Exposing new entry points from Maps listings in the absence of "See Inside".
3. Making thumbnails more useful by showing more of the environments they represent.
4. Giving you the ability to publish 360 photos but not have them appear in Maps listing galleries (have them only be accessible within Street View via links from adjacent, connected 360 photos).
5. Also potentially providing the ability to set a 360 photo's starting orientation.
6. Limiting a tour's entry point to 360 photos on the first floor when a tour spans multiple floors (once the SV Publish API supports floor selection).

We'll keep plugging away.

Charles Armstrong
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Metroplex360 private msg quote post Address this user
@armstrongc Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me, and by extension, the WGA Forum. We're a vocal bunch as we're an unofficial forum for everything panoramic and your presence here is quite a gift.

These are all great initiatives. Please keep in mind that at the end of the day - we have a burden of explanation to those who hire us to shoot tours for them. Customers have a certain set of expectations and when a photographer fails to meet them due to a changing platform, it places both the photographer and customer in an awkward position.

What truly defines a Google Street View Tour?

At the end of the day, what are we selling at this point? Google has defined it here:

https://www.google.com/streetview/hire/

I think that the bit of marketing here is good, but quite ambiguous in some ways.

There are 3 excellent value propositions made under the banner of 'Show Up When it Matters Most.' But does Street View still show up when it matters most?




"Google Search - Your Google Business listing is your company's most visible asset. Improve your presence with Street View content."

This is truly where customers want their tours to begin -- this is so critical. "See Inside" did this before and to an untrained eye, it looks like this is marketing the 'See Inside' view -- however, it's just circling imagery in general. There's a general consensus that this is the territory that we want to be able to sell our customers -- a reserved spot where their tour will begin, at the point that they want it to begin at. It's the most essential feature of GSV.




"Google Maps - Plant your flag. When prospective customers seek you out on Google Maps, help ensure that their first encounters are great ones."

I think we've been 'nerfed' here a bit. It's the very reason that I started this post. My customer asked that I remove his tour as the first impression was a random tour facing a random spot in his business. Again, we used to be able to define which images showed up as starting points for each of our constellation and we could set the thumbnail ourselves.

I cannot remove my tour and requested that support help me and received a "We can't do this." response due to a migration issue -- I'm thinking it may be a misunderstanding as this tour was submitted via the current system, not the old system, so we'll see how that ends.




"Give Travelers a tour of your hotel when they find your property on Google Search or Google Maps."

I don't work with hospitality at the current time. Previously, Business View offered a 'hotel mode' which truly allowed Street View to be utilized well. It has been well communicated that these features will return later (multi-floor, etc).

---

In closing - I am having a very difficult time selling Street View because what my customers expect and what I'm able to deliver is a very different thing. I cannot wait for the gap between what was and what is closes. In the meantime, please be sure to communicate these things with the photographers. Petitions are being signed, and while they might not hold any power, they are a great representation of the number of people who are having a very difficult time selling Google Street View due to the changes in the platform.
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armstrongc private msg quote post Address this user
Thanks Chris.

We hear you loud and clear. Really. We'll continue to try to navigate a changing landscape to keep Google's indoor tour offering pertinent—and in line with consumers', merchants', photographers', and Google's interests. The latter is something that those outside the company may not have insight into, but Street View is just one component of the Google Maps ecosystem. Changes that collectively improve the Google Maps consumer experience—like removing the See Inside entry point—can be painful for those of us closest to the change. But we'll keep working on new and better ways to bring this content to the forefront while balancing the broader needs of everyone else who uses these products. Improvements are actively being worked on that should help close the gap.

Have a good weekend,
Charles
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aarongeis private msg quote post Address this user
@armstrongc I do hope that ranking improvements will be coming soon. I also think that everyone involved with GSV deserves some transparency with regard to the click-through ads(?) that appear on the Maps carousel. Using a hotel tour I published directly with the SV App as an example - my client asked to pre-approve my high quality (10K px wide, sharp, color balanced, well exposed) images, they said the images were really nice and I should go ahead with publishing to SV. Within minutes of publishing the images appeared on the Maps carousel and the Search image panel. I sent a link to my client. They couldn't see all of the tour as the click-and-go navigation was jumping all over the place. I went to Maps to confirm that all of the tour was appearing as expected. All of the tour images had disappeared. Same on the Search image panel. This hotel has the usual glut of Oyster-linked mediocre images and scraped images placed by booking dot com and others. Filing a case resulted in the tour images being replaced on Maps and the Search image panel but if the client hadn't raised a concern they would have no tour at all unless I happened to go back to have a look for some reason. The tour images on the Maps carousel are ranking behind 20+ images that have the click-through function and four really poor quality and/or inappropriate UCG images. I've transferred the tour images to my client, they have accepted the transfer, several days on there has been no ranking improvement.

So my questions are -

1. Will our tour images ever have a chance to outrank the click-through placements?

2. Can we help our clients create their own click-through placements so that users can be directed to their websites and not only the third-party booking websites that take a cut of our clients' profits?

I could go on at length about how my clients feel about those third-party booking agents being able to scrape images from their websites to use for the advertising purposes of the booking agents, and how I feel about it when the scraped images are my own, but that's a subject for another thread.

Thanks in advance for your helpful reply,

Aaron

A snapshot of my tour imagery



An Oyster image that ranks at the top of the carousel



Two UGC images that rank in front of the tour




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aarongeis private msg quote post Address this user
Ok, so I'm not really surprised I didn't get an answer to my questions. I've asked these questions at least twice before on the official SVT forum and never had a reply. It seems to me that there are two possible explanations for the silence on this issue.

1. Someone in the Google Maps ecosystem is selling these ads to enterprise level companies such as Oyster, Rumbo and Booking dot com and the service isn't available to us and our customers.

2. The click-throughs are Schema markup spam and Google hasn't developed tools to remove these spammy images. If this is true the spammers effectively control the Maps image carousel as these images hold the first 20+ positions in many hotel and restaurant listings.

Google's own studies of the advantages of having an SV tour are focused on hotel's and restaurants which are increasingly affected by this issue so I do think it's worth sorting out as a matter of priority.
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armstrongc private msg quote post Address this user
Aaron,

I do my best to field your various comments across the channels where they crop up, but the best channel for them, if you want a response, is thru the Local Guides Connect forum for Street View trusted photographers. That's where we have a trained ops team awaiting you. On forums like this, where I sometimes add some transparency around top issues, I have to cut off so as to focus on fixing the issues rather than reporting on them.

To address your suspicions, no, we are not selling image result spaces to Oyster, Rumbo, Booking, or anyone else. We are committed to providing a platform where money does not buy top placement. That said, I agree with you that some of these corpora are ranking higher than great quality, tailor-shot SV trusted tours—and that's a real shame. We're actively working on addressing this.

As I've said before, please do not take a lack of response on my part to mean anything nefarious nor to imply tepid interest. This is simply not an official channel for Google Maps, nor am I the designated party for our day-to-day messaging, so what you're getting is my best effort to simply let you know we're on your side and working to make things better.
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aarongeis private msg quote post Address this user
Thank you for taking the time to reply Charles.

I have full respect and admiration for the team that helps photographers with matters of policy and process on the official forum. Over the course of the past five years, I have relied on their support in an attempt to consolidate knowledge about the SV system; both to better serve my clients and also in a consultancy role to provide tuition for other photographers. I have asked them about the click-through images a number of times. They haven't replied to those questions in any way.

It sounds like you're saying those click-throughs are a type of spam, or at least artificially ranking higher than they should. If the process is not officially 'spam' it would be great to learn how we can provide that service to our clients. Again I've asked this more than once on the official forum.

I hear you saying that you're on my/our side and that things are going to get better but what I am saying is that in real world terms of the presenting the current system to clients and the pace of improvements versus setbacks it doesn't feel like Google values high-quality SV tours over potential gross numbers of 360 images and many of the recent changes could hardly be described as improvements from the perspective of a professional content producer.

I also understand that the manager of the program can't be expected to offer front line support. I don't think anyone is asking for that. It would be great if perhaps once a month, even once a quarter, you could provide a short statement addressing the issues that the support team don't have answers for and communicating your vision of how professional content providers, and even active Guides, fit into your plans.

Kind regards,

Aaron
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armstrongc private msg quote post Address this user
Hi Aaron.

Good point. I know there's a limit to what our team is primed to answer questions on, but I'm sorry that in those cases you're not getting a response. I like the idea of a quarterly update. I'll take that back to the Operations team and see about making this happen.

Regarding the imagery that's outranking yours but often shouldn't, I'm not suggesting that anyone has gamed the system, it's just that the system constantly needs to be re-calibrated as more and more sources bring imagery to the table. We'll have this refactored soon, and you should see a much better standing for your imagery at that time.

Cheers,
Charles
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aarongeis private msg quote post Address this user
That's great. I think a quarterly communication from management level SV staff would go a long way to making professional contributors feel valued and heard.

Thank you for stating clearly that the click-throughs are considered 'fair-play', I'm very glad to move one step forward in my understanding of how they fit into the Maps ecosystem.

My thinking is that if I can find a tutorial explaining how to create those click-through frames I could sell that as an add-on service that would allow my clients to gain equal footing with the booking agents that are keen to funnel my client's customers through their services. It seems like it would be fair to give hotel searchers a chance to proceed directly to my client's websites to make their booking rather than only presenting them with click-throughs to the booking agents on the Maps carousel.

'Why does it matter?' some may ask. Sites like booking dot com take a percentage of the profits and they also don't require a deposit on the bookings. Not taking a deposit can create real headaches for hoteliers as some customers will make bookings and then not show up, leaving the hoteliers unable to sell those rooms, sometimes during peak season.

Understanding and addressing my client's concerns helps me provide a top level professional service to independent hoteliers and also multi-national branded hotels so it would be great to finally find a solution for this issue.

Best wishes,

Aaron
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armstrongc private msg quote post Address this user
Hi Aaron.

Good news: we're planning to begin a quarterly update, thanks to your suggestion.

I'm not the product manager for the Booking.com-style image feeds which populate Maps listings, so I can't speak to how those links are generated nor how third-parties can/cannot generate similar links, but to the best of my knowledge there's no way for explicitly-contributing parties to add such a link. Obviously, this means that explicitly-contributed imagery needs to be on at least equal footing with imagery from these feeds. We'll get it worked out very soon.

Thanks for the color explaining why hoteliers are unhappy. It's added ammunition that I've relayed to the right team.

At this point, I'll need to sign off for a while, but thanks for the useful exchange.

Charles
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aarongeis private msg quote post Address this user
Hi Charles,

I look forward to reading the quarterly updates with great interest, and some pride.

Have a great weekend!

Aaron
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