Maps is on track to become a major source of ad revenue for Google.
That’s according to analysts from Baird Equity Research, who claim that Maps is one of the company’s “most valuable assets,” one that could deliver $5 billion in incremental revenue by 2020.
Google doesn’t break out how much money it makes off of Maps, but lumps in Maps revenue with revenue from its other core websites like Search and YouTube. That totals about 80% of Google’s advertising revenue, which hit $19.82 billion in the third quarter, up 18% year over year.
But several analysts see a lot of potential in Maps: in June, Morgan Stanley analysts predicted that Maps could help the business deliver $1.5 billion in incremental revenue in 2017.
This is partly due to Google’s efforts to build out advertising within Maps. In June, the company unveiled new ad features in Maps called Promoted Pins ads, which encourage people to visit businesses like restaurants or gas stations along their route. Google also began rolling out other new local search features, like letting advertisers list special offers or local product inventory search bars.
"Maps is a pretty incredible Swiss army knife of a product," Jen Fitzpatrick, who has led the Maps division since fall 2014, told Business Insider in September. "One of the things we're thinking a lot about is, 'How do we take all of the goodness packed within it and bring the right part of that tool to the surface in the moment that's right for you?'"
Analysts think Google has already made headway in that department, and will soon be able to take on competitors in the local ad space.
"As Google unlocks the revenue potential for Maps, there may be inevitable overlaps with existing local services providers," Baird wrote in a note to investors. "In particular, as Google expands the amount of user-generated local information with additional advertising and transaction services (e.g., food delivery, reservations, etc.), we foresee increasing competitive threats to Yelp, TripAdvisor, Groupon, Angie's List and Grubhub."
Google has already begun using some of those services to power its local offerings: the company has integrated third-party delivery services into restaurants' Maps information within the Maps iOS app, which keeps users inside of Maps rather than rerouting them to a delivery service's app.