Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre is the first mall in Canada to feature a Google 'walk-through' on Google Maps/GPS, where viewers can take a virtual stroll through the interior of the mall on desktops, tablets and smartphones. It went live November 4th, 2013 and was developed by Wisdek Online Marketing via Google Business Photos. Wisdek plans to roll-out this feature in about 40 Canadian malls over the course of 2014.
We interviewed Wisdek representative Courtney Dale, who explained the process as well as the concept. A fish-eye camera is used to take a series of 360-degree photos (214 panos for Yorkdale, to be exact). These photos are combined to create an interactive 'walk-through' experience where viewers can move frame-by-frame through the mall as if they were actually there. The virtual tours are designed to replicate what a tour of the mall would be like on foot. Floor maps allow visitors to look at a multi-layer blueprint of the mall and navigate using GPS. Zooming in on the floor map takes them to the more detailed virtual tour. Wisdek was the first Canadian agency to combine indoor floor maps technology with Google Business Photos, and Yorkdale was its first project. Wisdek was also the first business in Canada to become a Google Certified Business Photos Agency, in addition to being a Google Partner for online advertising.
According to Wisdek, this concept can further improve search engine rankings when a business actively develops its Google+ profile (which is where you will find the tour). It also increases website visitation by bringing internet traffic from Google Maps as well as from Google Streetview. It may ultimately generate more walk-in traffic for businesses and can facilitate more online reviews for those companies featured.
Wisdek is also looking to photograph 360 degree store interiors inside Yorkdale and may even start coordinating walk-throughs of larger stores, including department stores. This could be a brilliant way for Hudson's Bay, for example, to promote its Toronto flagship, not to mention allow the viewer to learn the store's layout before entering to make purchases.
You can take a virtual tour of Yorkdale Shopping Centre at http://goo.gl/maps/3QWN9.