I’ve been saying for a long time that revenue-shared advertising is how maps providers like Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, and MSN Virtual Earth will make money from their software. This post from the Virtual Earth developer portal confirms that Microsoft will be doing just this.
You can continue to use the Virtual Earth API for free as long as you have the What/Where search boxes on your map. You will have the opportunity to make money by placing advertisements on your site in a revenue sharing model (more details to be announced at a later date)..
This has been the missing piece in online mapping. Finally, Microsoft are closing the loop between maps and money. The question is: will Yahoo!, Google, MapQuest, or someone else beat them to it first?
Also notable from the article is the other choice advertisers have: If you prefer not to utilize the What/Where search boxes on your site or participate in revenue-sharing advertising, you can use the Virtual Earth API under a MapPoint Web Service contract. You will be charged for transactions through the Virtual Earth API. The Virtual Earth API will also then be covered by our Service Level Agreement (SLA) and support contract. Microsoft are using the elegant online interface to generate customers for their transaction-based revenue model.
I’ve been hard on parts of Microsoft before, but MSN Virtual Earth is getting it right. They’ve given us a great user interface, with features beyond those of the competition. They’ve given us developer documentation with people dedicated to answering user questions (something Google has struggled to do). They’re going to share revenue with the remixers. This is all good. Now if only Virtual Earth was more than Virtual America … :-)
For more details, see Chandu Thota’s blog on the subject.