What’s Google’s Marissa Mayer Up To?

We haven’t heard much from Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s highest-profile executives, since she left her longtime job as vice president of search products last October to become vice president of location and local services. Some saw that as a demotion, though it’s clear that Google is putting an especially heavy emphasis on local commerce and advertising. So, hoping she will reveal a bit more of what she has been and will be doing in the red-hot local e-commerce and ad markets, I’ll be watching Mayer’s fireside chat with Mike Arrington at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York today. Here’s what she has to say:

Q: What’s Google like now with Larry Page as CEO? Mayer: Google’s always been focused on the user, and Larry even more so. The other thing that’s happened is we had projects that started small like Chrome and Android that are now large. There’s a lot of optimism. A lot of energy.

Q: Is it good for competition and the industry that there’s Facebook, Bing, and other significant competitors? Mayer: It causes everyone to work that much harder and get that much better.

Q: What are you doing now? Mayer: I’m VP of Maps and Local (guess her title has changed a bit?).

Q: Is Google scraping other sites’ content for its Place pages? Mayer: People expect results to be comprehensive. So we want to get people really good data when they search for local information. It’s really meant to be a directory. There’s not enough information there to make a decision… so you go to the reviews and other sites.

Q: Is Google going to show only its own reviews once it gets enough of them? Mayer: Today we aren’t getting a lot of [our own] long-form reviews. (So I guess not, for a while at least).

Q: What are Google brands that matter going forward? There’s so many, I’m confused. Mayer: We’re really trying to streamline that. Not as many separate brands like Hotpot, etc. There’s Maps and there’s Local. Maps is the geospatial location and it should be personalized. Places is the local side of it, the textual and descriptive side. Those are really the two big pillars in this space.

Q: How are things going on the mobile side? Mayer: Great. We just crossed the 200 million installs on Google Maps for Local. About 40% of our traffic for Maps is mobile. More on the weekends, could cross permanently in June.

Q: What’s your goal to be successful in the next year? Mayer: Get you places you want to go or didn’t know you want to go. Enhancing our data. On the very far reaches, I’m starting to look at contextual discovery: Can we figure out from your context just the right information you’re likely to want without searching for it. Like if you walk into a restaurant that your friend went to last week, maybe you could see what they ordered.

Q: What are you personally investing in besides Square and One Kings Lane? Mayer: Also Minted, Gene Security Network. I’ve been active as an angel for a little while. It’s fun. I love watching how companies go through the growth phase, and helping them get through that. I’m not on Angel List or anything like that.

And that’s it. Well, not much there, sorry to say. You’ll get more on what Mayer and Google are planning for the local market here.

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