Since Google announced their Google Maps Platform pricing changes in June 2018, we've had a lot of customers asking is if they should expect to be charged for the Google Maps usage in their Store Locator so we've tried to explain this as much as possible in this article.
Firstly, each Google Platform account receives a $200 free quota each month which can be used for your usage of the Google Maps services. If you usage is under $200 each month then you pay nothing and most of our customers fall into this bracket (over 97%).
How the costs break down
A common question we get is "How many times can my Store Locator page be viewed each day or month before I am charged? Unfortunately, this is a tricky question to answer as it really depends on the pattern of how your visitors actually use your store locator in practice. This is because the store locator will make various calls to the different Google Maps APIs depending on what your visitors actually do when they visit your page.
Here's how it breaks down:
- Each time the page on which your store locator is hosted is viewed, this counts as a 'Dynamic Map Load'.
- If someone uses the address autocompletion feature by typing into the address search field, this counts as a 'Places API' call.
- If someone clicks on the 'My Location' button to automatically find their location on the map, this counts as a 'Geocoding Request'.
- If someone clicks on the Directions button to find the directions to a location, this counts as a 'Directions API' call.
Each of the events above actually count towards your $200 free monthly quota from Google. Now, the reason why we say that it depends on usage is for example you might have disabled the 'My Location' button so you wouldn't get any 'Geocoding Requests' made by your locator. Similarly, you might have set it up so that the locator automatically finds the users location every time it is loaded so you would get one of these Geocoding Requests EVERY time the page loads.
What's the maximum number of times my store locator can be viewed each day inside the free quota?
This is the million dollar question! Above we broke down the different actions within our store locator which result in Google Maps API calls. However, every customer is different so depending on what features you have enabled in your locator and on how your visitors use those features, your actual usage of the Google Maps API will vary and hence your expected costs will vary.
To help analyze this, we tracked usage of the Google Maps APIs across all our customers for a period of one month and we found that on average across all our customers, each time that the page on which your store locator is hosted is viewed, you'll receive requests to each of the various APIs in the following percentages:
- Dynamic Map Loads: 100% (these happen every time the store locator is viewed)
- Places API calls: 22%
- Geocoding Requests: 27%
- Directions Requests: 1%
So, if you assume your usage is around the average, then based on these number, you could have up to 16,500 store locator page loads a month (or 500 a day) and just squeeze inside the free usage quota.
Just to give you an idea of whether this is likely or not, across our entire customer base (which includes some large global brands that you will know and love!), we expect less than 3% to have to pay anything to Google for their store locator usage. The chart below gives a view of expected costs for all our customers; only very high usage customers to the LEFT of the red line would expect to pay anything for their Google Maps usage.
In the chat
This tallies almost exactly with what Google said when they announced their pricing changes which is that only 3% of their Maps users should expect to be impacted by these changes. It really is quite a high bar and for the vast majority of businesses these pricing and quota changes will not be an issue.
What to do if you think you might exceed the quota
If you are a large business or expect high usage of your locator and you are at all concerned about any additional costs using the Google API, we can provide an estimate to you of your expected Google Maps usage during your free trial period by tracking your locator's API calls during that period. This will allow us to give you a more definitive answer as to whether you will need to budget for any Google Maps Platform costs.
What Google API costs look like if the free quota is exceeded
Just to give you an idea, let's look at how the costs would change if you went over 500 page loads a day (again, these figures are based on average usage of the locator):
- Up to 15,000 / month (500 / day): Free (included in $200 monthly free quota)
- 30,000 / month (1,000 / day): $164
- 60,000 / month (2,000 / day): $529
- 300,000 / month (10,000 / day): $3,443
As you can see, costs to ramp up quite quickly so it's worth switching to Mapbox maps (see above link) if you expect high usage of your store locator.
What you can do to reduce or eliminate these costs
The great news is that we recently announced that we recently integrated a more cost effective mapping provider called Mapbox into our service. Mapbox are the market leading Open Street Map mapping provider who provide a first class mapping service and API with both a more generous free quota than Google AND cheaper pricing once you exceed the free quota (in most cases, one tenth of the price). You can read about how to switch your store locator from Google Maps to Mapbox here: https://www.storelocatorwidgets.com/supportarticle?title=How%20to%20switch%20your%20locator%20from%20Google%20Maps%20to%20Mapbox%20Maps.
If you're interested in a more complete rundown of Google's platform and pricing changes then you can find this here: https://www.storelocatorwidgets.com/blogpost/20460/Recently_announced_Google_Maps_platform_changes_-_Full_Update_and_FAQ