GREENFIELD — Google Street View images showcasing Hancock County’s major roads — and many residents — are beginning to arrive online after a long delay.
The Street View images were captured in July 2019 by San Diego-based marketing firm Truly360, which was hired by the Hancock County Tourism Commission. The images were expected to be online within four to six weeks.
Sixth months later, some are available to view. Google Street View users can see residents dressed in costumes and waving signs along State Street in Greenfield and Main Street in Fortville, but large portions of the images still appear to be inaccessible.
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Brigette Cook Jones, executive director of the Hancock County Tourism Commission, said the project had experienced a number of delays due to requirements from Google.
“The amount of content that we provided, this was something Google had never seen before from an independent provider,” Jones said.
Clark Richardson, marketing director at Truly360, said the company made changes to its process for uploading third-party Street View images just as the Hancock County project was underway. Richardson said Google made the changes after a user took advantage of the platform by uploading images of himself in the nude.
Now, Richardson said, all of the Hancock County images have been provided to Google. While Truly360 works as a liaison between its clients and the Google products it helps them utilize, it does not have final say on when new content goes live.
“We are not Google,” Richardson said. “We work with them with the tools they give us.”
The Street View images were taken along the main streets and roads of Greenfield, New Palestine, Cumberland, Mt. Comfort, McCordsville and Fortville. Many shots captured residents standing along the route wearing costumes and holding signs, such as a Fortville resident who wore a dinosaur costume to advertise Libby’s Ice Cream and Gifts, a store on Main Street.
Google users viewing the route will also see a digital “billboard” advertising the Hancock County Tourism Commission if they scroll to look at the top of the car where the Street View camera was mounted, something that is a first for the platform.
“This is cutting edge; it’s never been done before,” Jones said.
Though some of the images are now online, users might not see them as the default when they type in an address or look at the map. Google now hosts multiple Street View images from different points in time, and older versions may still show up as the default. To make sure they are viewing the most recent images, users can click on an image of a clock in the upper left hand corner of the Street View display and choose January 2020 on the timeline.
Richardson said the more recent images should increasingly appear as the default over time.
The Tourism Commission’s contract with Truly360 states that the Commission will pay them $2,000 a month over two years.
The contract was not limited to the Street View photography. Other services included “digital tours” of four Hancock County hotels: 360-degree views of their interiors that are available on their Google business listings. Six hotels received training on promoting themselves via search engine optimization. Truly360 also took drone images showing aerial views of Hancock County, including during the Riley Festival, which will also be uploaded to Google.
“There were a lot of other elements in this package,” Jones said. “We’ve been very pleased with that part of it.”
Because of the delay in the Street View process, Truly360 will provide additional services to the tourism commission at no cost. Those may include SEO training for additional area businesses, Jones said. She said the commission has not been unhappy overall with the partnership.
“This whole thing with Google happened, and that was really not their fault,” she said. “Truly360’s trying to make it right.”
Clark said Hancock County’s investment in, and enthusiasm for, the online advertising project demonstrates that the county is “forward-thinking and invested in the future.”
Jones said she expects the investment to pay off by bringing more attention to Hancock County communities.
“When all this is live, Greenfield and Hancock County will be the new gold standard for how you do Google, and it’s going to get a lot of eyes on it,” Jones said.