Maps and local business info are big business for today’s digital marketing giants.

The ability for marketers to learn where people search, shop and spend money offers a competitive advantage and a huge potential source of advertising revenue. And it’s only getting more important as travelers rely more on location-aware smartphones. One need only look at Apple’s decision to replace Google Maps (despite the resulting product problems) with its own mapping product as an example how important controlling this information can be.

Amidst this growing competitive landscape of map products, Chinese search giant Baidu announced plans last week to add map data for more than 100 new countries to its popular mapping application. With Chinese travelers continuing to wield growing economic power over many travel marketing decisions (last year Chinese tourism spending topped more than $137 billion), there’s huge money riding on whether or not Baidu, or some other Chinese-market competitor, controls this information. Read on for more analysis, plus the rest of this week’s news.

China’s Baidu Announces Expansion of Maps Data to 100+ New Countries
Chinese search giant Baidu is planning to expand its popular mapping service to cover more than 100 new countries around the world. The move comes amidst an environment where more Chinese travelers are venturing abroad and mapping products are getting more important for local businesses and advertisers to reach customers while traveling. Read more

Airlines and Airports Try to Cater to Solo Female Travelers
A new demographic is rising to the top of many travel marketers’ targeting lists: solo female travelers. As more women hit the road, many airports and airlines are looking to add new services to appeal to the demographic, including products like special amenity kits and targeted in-flight magazines for frequent female business travelers. Read more

Crispin Porter + Bogusky Pulls the Plug on Its Turkish Airlines Ad Work
Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the creative agency behind a wildly popular ad campaign for Turkish Airlines featuring Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant, announced in November it was ending its 3.5-year relationship with the carrier. While the motivation for the decision is unclear, a statement from the agency noted that, “circumstances on the account have become increasingly untenable.” Read more

Motel 6 Tries to Simplify Mobile Booking Process with New App
As more travelers get comfortable purchasing products like hotel rooms using their smartphone, hotel chains have had to adapt to ensure the mobile booking experience was convenient and easy to use. Motel 6 is the latest hotel chain to focus on mobile commerce, updating its app to include new GPS feautures and mobile payment options. Read more

Expedia Launches New Search Tools for Amazon’s Voice-Powered Alexa
Online travel agency Expedia is ramping up its voice search capabilities, launching a new interface for Amazon’s popular Alexa service that lets Expedia customers look for flight updates and search for car rentals. Read more

Photo Credit: Nokia's HERE map app on an iPhone. Data in digital maps reveals significant details about where users visit, shop and search, making mapping applications a key battleground for tech companies and marketers. Skift