Google Maps Platform

Google Maps Platform, did you hear about it?

Google announced today the launch of the Google Maps Platform. They described the new platform as:

a simplified product structure, pay as you go pricing for all, and more

Technically speaking, from a developers point of view there are no changes to how the Google Maps API will work, the only difference will be in regards to their pricing model.

Starting from June 11, 2018, if you don’t enable billing with a credit card within your Google Maps Platform account and you don’t have have a valid API key for all projects, Google Maps will stop working on your website.

Does it mean that using Google Maps API is no longer free?

No, use up to a certain limits is still free, so it doesn’t mean that you will have to pay for sure. What it means, is that you must have a valid credit card and enable billing on your Google Maps Platform account, to use a Google Maps based applications.

What they radically changed, is the pricing model and the way they calculate the thresholds for free use.

Until 2 years ago, Google Maps API would return up to 25,000 keyless requests per day and would require an API key and payments only after exceeding the 25,000 limit for 90 consecutive days.

2 years ago they introduced the Google Maps API Key and new limits, where each new websites needed a API key and they raised the limit to 25,000 free API requests per day without grace days.

What is the new Google Maps Platform Pricing Model?

Even though they present this as a simplified product structure, the new pricing model is definitely more complex than in the past and calculating the limits to see if your website will need to pay or not, won’t be that easy.

The main simplification is that there is no longer a free general amount of requests. Each API request is counted differently depending on the service requested and they provide a $200/monthly credit to every user.

Requests of Mobile Native Static Maps or Mobile Native Dynamic Maps are free and unlimited. With the $200 credit, you’ll never have to pay for Mobile Native Static Maps or Mobile Native Dynamic Maps requests to the Google Maps API.

Requests to Dynamic Street View cost $0.014 per request up to 100k requests (after the price goes down to $0.0112). With the $200 monthly credit you can do up to 14000 requests.

This is the pricing table for the Google Maps Platform API for Maps:

Free monthly usage ($200 value)Price per thousand calls
Monthly volume range0—100,000100,001+
Mobile Native Static MapsUnlimited loads$0.00$0.00
Mobile Native Dynamic MapsUnlimited loads$0.00$0.00
EmbedUnlimited loads$0.00$0.00
Embed AdvancedUp to 14,000 loads$14.00$11.20
Static MapsUp to 100,000 loads$2.00$1.60
Dynamic MapsUp to 28,000 loads$7.00$5.60
Static Street ViewUp to 28,000 panos$7.00$5.60
Dynamic Street ViewUp to 14,000 panos$14.00$11.20

This is the pricing table for the Google Maps Platform API for Routes:

Free monthly usage ($200 value)Price per thousand calls
Monthly volume range0—100,000100,001+
DirectionsUp to 40,000 calls$5.00$4.00
Distance MatrixUp to 40,000 elements$5.00$4.00
Directions AdvancedUp to 20,000 calls$10.00$8.00
Distance Matrix AdvancedUp to 20,000 elements$10.00$8.00
Roads – Route TraveledUp to 40,000 calls$10.00$8.00
Roads – Nearest RoadUp to 40,000 calls$10.00$8.00

This is the pricing table for the Google Maps Platform API for Places:

Free monthly usage ($200 value)Price per thousand calls
Monthly volume range0—100,000100,001+
Autocomplete – Per CharacterUp to 70,000 chars$2.83$2.26
Autocomplete – Per SessionUp to 11,000 sessions$17.00$13.60
Places Details – BasicUp to 11,000 calls$17.00$13.60
Places Details – Basic + ContactUp to 10,000 calls$20.00$16.00
Places Details – Basic + AtmosphereUp to 9,000 calls$22.00$17.60
Places Details – Basic + Contact + AtmosphereUp to 8,000 calls$25.00$20.00
Places PhotoUp to 28,000 calls$7.00$5.60
GeocodingUp to 40,000 calls$5.00$4.00
GeolocationUp to 40,000 calls$5.00$4.00
Time ZoneUp to 40,000 calls$5.00$4.00
ElevationUp to 40,000 calls$5.00$4.00
Find PlaceUp to 11,000 calls$17.00$13.60
Places – Nearby Search (includes Basic + Contact + Atmosphere)Up to 5,000 calls$40.00$32.00
Places – Text Search (includes Basic + Contact + Atmosphere)Up to 5,000 calls$40.00$32.00

How do I calculate if I’m within the limits?

These are the API that GeoDirectory currently uses:

  1. Directions API: up to 40k free requests
  2. Distance Matrix API: up to 40k free requests
  3. Elevation API: up to 40k free requests
  4. JavaScript Dynamic Maps: up to 28k free requests
  5. Embedded Maps: Free
  6. Places API : (limit depends on fields used)
  7. Static Maps: up to 100,000 loads
  8. Street View: up to 28,000 panos
  9. Geocoding API: up to 40k free requests
  10. Geolocation API: up to 40k free requests
  11. Time Zone API: up to 40k free requests

What we use the most on GeoDirectory are definitely the Dynamic Maps and the new Google Maps Platform provides 28k free requests for those.

Considering that now they are offering 25k free requests per day, the limit appear to have been dramatically lowered.

Below is an example of a small directory we run (75 listings) for the last 30 days:


On the face of it the site is using about 40% of its free allowance for about 30k sessions and about 120k page views. For relevancy this site makes around $5,000 a year.

What are the steps to enable billing and keep using the Google Maps API

Google provided a transition tool. You need to visit this URL: https://mapsplatformtransition.withgoogle.com/ and login in the Google Account used to create the Google Maps API key of your Directory.

A screen like this will appear:

After clicking on the “Add Billing” button, you will be taken to complete a form asking for your personal information and a credit card number.

That is all you need to do.

After enabling billing, the console provides tools to set alarms or limits, so that you never overspend, even in case of unexpected traffic spikes.

What is our response to this news?

The vast majority of our users won’t be affected by these new limits, sure they might be forced to give Google their billing details but most will remain on the free plan.

GeoDirectory already has the option to use Open Street Maps (OSM) which continues to be free and does not even require an API key.

If your site is set to “Auto” for the maps provider (which it is by default) then there is a chance you are already using OSM without even knowing it.

When it’s set to “Auto” we try to load Google maps but if it fails then we will automatically switch to OSM.

This feature was built in a long time ago mostly for our customers who live in countries where the Google maps API is blocked, if anyone visits your GeoDirectory site from a country where the Google API is blocked, then they will see OSM instead of a broken map 🙂

It is currently unclear how Google will handle things when limits are reached, but if it is possible, we will make it so that it will automatically transition to OSM. Just like it does now for users who live in countries where the Google API is blocked.

We may also look at ways to reduce API calls such as implementing static maps (which are 100% free) on the details pages that only load dynamic maps when interacted with.

Conclusion

We knew this day would come the day Google implemented mandatory API keys for all map API calls.

Its almost 2 years since that came into effect, back then this change broke many old plugins and themes that had not developed a system to add a API key to the map calls.

For that we wrote a small plugin to easily generate a API key and fix the calls on the fly https://wordpress.org/plugins/api-key-for-google-maps/. This is now helping over 100,000 websites!

The small percentage of GeoDirectory customers that will be affected by this, have the option to switch to OSM and continue to use maps on their directory for free.

We will continue to develop solutions that reduce API calls where possible.

Thanks,

Team GeoDirectory

14 thoughts on “Google Maps Platform New Pricing Model

  1. Thank you for this as it is very helpful and informative.

    Despite the fact that I don’t rely too much on maps, giving Google my credit card number with things a bit in flux is a non-starter for me. I will switch to OSM and monitor developments on the Google maps side for the near future.

  2. Excellent round-up of info!

    Google is signaling serious changes with a very short notice period on one of their most popular products.

    Had they given earlier notice before that email went out?

    • It’s either that, or you could use your credit card and if any of their websites go over the free limits, you can charge them as part of your services with a markup.

      Otherwise you can tell your clients that Google Maps will no longer work on their website without a credit card attached to their accounts. As an alternative you can move them to open Street Map for a fee.

      Not being your fault and easy to justify, I’d see this as an opportunity to make more business.

  3. I have over 50 websites that are using Google’s Map API feature. Most of the sites will never exceed the monthly API calls. I’m thinking of just simply charging an additional $10.00 per month per website to cover the possible additional expense and just let my customer’s know that it’s $10.00 well invested as opposed to not having a map on their website.

  4. I agree, I will not sign up and give my credit card. It’s disappointing as I just launched my website and now have to deal with these changes. But I also think, as in my own life, we should have options past the Google egg basket. I have been trying to use them less in life as it is, just one more thing I won’t be using from Google. I think it would be wise for them to NOT make people sign up for billing unless their sites are sucking up resources. At that point I’m sure $200 plus a month is chump change. Why punish us all. By the way OpenStreetMaps is pretty decent on my site. The only google maps that wont’ load is the small map up by the address. Ah well!

  5. Agreed. For map display purposes, OSM is a good alternative. In case you need high quality geocoding, places, routing, directions, traffic… TomTom Maps APIs (developer.tomtommaps.com) is an excellent and very affordable alternative!

  6. >>What we use the most on GeoDirectory are definitely the Dynamic Maps and the new Google Maps Platform provides 28k free requests for those. Considering that now they are offering 25k free requests, the limit appear to have been raised, rather than lowered.

    Please, note: now Google is offering 25k free requests daily. With new pricing there will be 28k free requests MONTHLY.

    • You are absolutely right and I can believe I overlooked that… Thanks for letting me notice, I corrected the article too!

  7. I’m a bit late, but you mention here that you’re looking to implementing 100% Free static maps that only change into dynamic ones when interacted with, except on the pricing sheet static google maps are not free either. They’re cheaper for sure and support many more loads than dynamic maps do, so this feature would be useful but still.

    • You are correct and there is Open Street Maps for anyone not willing to pay anything at all. 🙂

    • Thanks for letting us know about your solution, but it would cost more to use your maps, than buying our plugin for sites with heavy traffic.
      Considering that the alternative to Google Maps that we offer is 100% free, it wouldn’t make sense for us to integrate mapfit.com

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