Recently, Google launched a new address validation tool to the public. This new feature connected to the Google Maps platform can check, standardize, and geocode addresses.
On paper, it seems like Google's address validation services are robust and effective - but we will share a detailed analysis and comparison below, to reveal its pros and cons.
The basic steps to validate any address are: (1) Parsing, (2) Formatting, (3) Validating, (4) Correction & Standardization and (5) Enrichments.
An example looks like this:
Veterans Memorial Highway
After the program checks the address validity, it looks like this - generated by Byteplant Address-Validator:
2800 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
Longitude: 40.78836; Latitude: -73.14163
In addition to checking the address and eliminating obvious errors, Google's address validation API also provides metadata related to the address, including the Plus Code, Place ID, and geocodes. Sometimes, it can also tell the difference between a residential and a commercial address.
Google address validation tool is very new to the market - and it has some interesting features that seem useful on the first glance.
New users get $200 worth in credits. The credits can be spent on tools on the Google Maps Platform, including Routes, Places, and Maps.
However, it is important to note that the license terms do allow all data to be stored only for a maximum of 30 days. This means that addresses have to be repeatedly re-validated - which increases the costs of address validation and the time and processing effort for the implementation significantly.
The Validation API currently works only for 27 countries, including the US, UK, and some EU countries. And while this is an important benefit for companies that work internationally, address formats differ greatly from country to county and street names often get translated making it a very tedious task to expand country coverage. It could take many years, along with a lot of trial and error to expand the existing list of covered countries.
For some countries, Google also offers a residential delivery indicator (RDI). This tool can identify whether the address is commercial or residential.
This information can have an effect on the shipping costs. It can also help with the speed and efficiency of delivery. All things considered, Google's address verification API is a high-quality tool. However, compared to similar address validation tools that have been on the market for a while, it's often not up to par.
There are significant issues with Google's service including, but not limited to:
In address verification, parsing plays a major role. It involves breaking the address down into elements and labeling them properly for further analysis. For example:
In this case, at first sight, it appears that the address is parsed properly. However, the devil is in the details - let's take a closer look at the "Route" component.
Let's ignore all the "Plausible" (equivalent of "I don't know" results) for now, this is the next big disadvantage from Google address validator - because the address actually does not exist.
Byteplant Address-Validator Result:
Perhaps the most severe of the disadvantages of Google's solution. When an address has components that cannot be validated, more often than not, the result "Plausible" is returned.
While it is reasonable to expect a margin of error for data quality solutions, Google seems to take large amounts of freedom in this area. For companies that rely on accurate address data for their internal operations and workflows, this is the worst case scenario - it is the equivalent of "I don't know, find out yourself".
Check out some of the examples of two blatantly false addresses below:
Example 1: This address is located in Rome, Italy. The country selected as "Spain" and the results are "Plausible" - a clear sign that some addresses are not validated through official sources at all.
Byteplant Address-Validator Response:
Example 2: This address is located in Germany. All components are correct, except the house number ("street number" in this case). Again, the result is "Plausible" - another address that is not being properly validated through official sources.
Byteplant Address-Validator Response:
Google sets very restrictive limits for storing, caching, and indexing data - the license terms allow a maximum of 30 days. In addition to being problematic for companies that need to use this type of data for more than a month - this also creates a very significant amount of hidden costs for the user in terms of implementing periodic re-validation processes. As such, this is a major drawback for any organization planning to use Google's address validation services.
Right now, Google's Address Validation tool only supports 27 countries. This can be highly inefficient for international companies. Robust address validation tools like Byteplant Address Validator can check addresses from 240 countries.
While Google has announced it will add more countries to the list, however, due to the complexity and nuances of each country's postal address format, it can take years of trial and error to even get over 100+ countries covered.
As Google is a U.S. based company, it is not compliant with GDPR regulations. This is a serious issue for international companies that process PII data of their EU based customers and clients.
Google's Address Validation API comes with a few more downsides and limitations. One of them is speed. Compared to similar tools, Google's solution is slow. It also offers only a very clunky bulk validation. While it may be satisfactory for smaller companies, clients with large address lists may feel the difference.
Google's Address Validation API is one of the newest data quality solutions offered by the search giant. While it has many benefits, there are many serious disadvantages including but not limited to: (1) Unreliable, inaccurate, incomplete/ambiguous and misleading validation results , (2) Significant hidden costs due to restrictive 30 day maximum data storage limitations, and (3) Non-existing GDPR compliance making it impossible/illegal to validate data from EU citizens.
There are other services like Byteplant's Address Validator, which offer all the same features, but with a much higher accuracy and reliability, and without the many restrictions and limitations the Google service has.
We make things very easy for you - you can test Address-Validator with a free trial now.