Oct 25, 2023 / 5 min read

Why Google Places API May Not Be Right for Your Business


Many businesses use Google Places API to request location data and imagery about points of interest and other locations. The appeal is obvious; with products like Maps and Earth, Google has insight into location data around the globe. But for businesses hoping to use location data to expand, refine ad targeting, or conduct market research, Google Places API is not as cost-effective or accurate as it seems. 

Many users quickly discover that Google Places API is more costly and restrictive than they’d hoped. In fact, when you dive into the details of Google Places API pricing, it’s clear that this solution is in fact a barrier to developing location intelligence at scale.

 To help you make the best decision for your needs, this article will focus on the benefits of location intelligence, how Google Places API pricing works, and the true costs and restrictions of Google Places API. We’ll then dive into alternatives to the Places API.

The benefits of location intelligence

Companies can capitalize on geospatial insights regardless of their industries. From third-party logistics to quick-service restaurants and real estate, location data is fueling growth for businesses of all sizes and types. This data enables companies to conduct more comprehensive market research and optimize upstream supply chain opportunities and expansion plans. It also opens the floodgates for highly targeted and effective advertising.

When researching site selection, location intelligence reveals the physical footprint of competitors in any given market, as well as point of interest (POI) data that aids in the evaluation of complementary businesses or attractions that could generate customers. To increase the odds of acquiring these customers, companies can use location data to create geo-targeted mobile advertising campaigns and purchase out-of-home (OOH) ad space to deliver relevant impressions.

The hidden costs and restrictions of Google Places API 

With so many tantalizing business use cases for location data, companies are eager to start collecting and acting on it. One popular platform is the Google Places API, which seems on the surface to be an easy, cost-effective way to unlock the benefits of geospatial insights. However, the Places API has significant weaknesses—and hidden costs.

Users of the Places API receive a $200 credit each month toward their requests. According to Google Places API pricing, that’s equivalent to 28,500 maploads per month. But not all queries are created equal, as the Places API uses a stock keeping unit (SKU) system to classify different services and their corresponding rates. As a result, companies can rack up bills that are much higher than the monthly credit, depending on which type of Google Places API data they’re accessing—maps, routes, or places.

Because market research often requires multiple calls to the API to collect the full scope of required information, companies in the midst of expansion are most at risk of overspending on the Places API. For example, Passenger Coffee, a regional brand in central Pennsylvania, could plan to expand with new distribution partners and a physical cafe in Philadelphia. Passenger’s team would likely be searching for information beyond basic place attributes, such as contact information or operating hours—all of which would require individual calls to the API. If they use the Places API to pull POI datasets for research on site selection, competitive presence, and potential distribution partners, they could quickly end up exceeding the $200 monthly credit. This could prove challenging for smaller brands, where every dollar counts.

Additionally, limitations of the Google Places API can make this research even more challenging. Storing data in any capacity for more than 30 days is a violation of Google’s terms of service (TOS). So, the monetary investment could be significant for a smaller CPG brand, yet the data they collect will vanish quickly in the shadow of the Google TOS. Similarly, tech giants like Google have the power to change their licensing at will. This leaves companies at the mercy of a large corporation, adding an unnecessary element of risk to any strategy driven by Google data.

On a more technical level, data from the Google Places API can’t be used to build iterative data products, and cannot be transferred for use in other company initiatives. The service doesn’t account for duplicate records nor does it provide tailored customer service for the Places API product. While this API is a step up from open source data that is often outdated and rife with errors, unpredictable charges and limitations to scalability makes the Google Places API a poor fit for many businesses. 

Trusting dataplor as a partner for truly global intelligence 

The point of this article is not to rake Google Places API over the coals. Google is a trusted data source for millions of users around the world. But it’s simply not the best fit for companies that need high volumes of accurate, comprehensive location data, and a more tailored customer experience as they gather global intelligence. 

dataplor is in many ways the opposite of Google Places API. Our data is meticulously curated and vetted for accuracy by humans around the world. Global POI datasets updated in near real-time ensure that companies are getting their hands on the most up-to-date and enhanced insights as they pursue expansion plans. 

Companies may be able to extract raw location data from Google, but only dataplor can categorize U.S. and international locations by type, such as restaurants and hospitals. This includes 13,000 brands and chains identified by 35 unique attributes in 5,200 categories. dataplor POI datasets contain 200 million POIs in more than 200 countries and territories.

Our competitors have a narrow focus on the U.S. and Canada, but dataplor’s capabilities are global — that’s always been our identity. The extent of our solutions-focused services, our commitment to working with customers on their datasets, and the quality of our international data make dataplor the singular global partner for location intelligence. 

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