Archive for April, 2011

Facebook Launches Daily Deals Focused on Social

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Over the past year, we’ve shared news on how many companies in our industry are launching new daily deals initiatives in response to positive early feedback from local businesses and consumers. Just last week, our annual conference in Las Vegas featured a panel with Rich Razgaitis of Reach Deals and Martin Tobias of Tipper, in which they discussed the opportunities and overwhelming popularity of this rapidly growing model.

Yesterday, Facebook announced plans to expand its local daily deals portfolio by testing a service that focuses on offering deals that are social in nature – specifically, deals that friends will buy and experience together (such as tickets to concerts or sports games). Facebook Deals, which will initially be available in five U.S. cities—including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco—will differ from existing sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial in that it will not focus on offering deeply discounted deals.

As Emily White, Facebook’s director of local initiatives, told The Wall Street Journal, “[Facebook Deals] is not about mimicking an existing business model and force fitting it into Facebook. The premise here is that people come to Facebook to have social experiences with one another.”

White said that if the primary focus of friends doing something is getting together with one another, then deep discounts aren’t necessary to drive sales. The Wall Street Journal notes that this approach may be more appealing to local businesses, some of which are wary of the long-term benefit of attracting customers on the basis of discounted services.

Yesterday’s announcement illustrates the importance that Facebook is placing on attracting local business advertisers. Last November, we reported that Facebook had launched a mobile-based deals offering that allows retailers and other merchants to offer coupons and special deals through its popular mobile application.

And at our annual conference last week, Yvette Lui, Facebook’s director of North American sales, told our audience that Facebook is thinking about how to reach small businesses on a greater scale. Lui said one of her key learnings since joining Facebook is that all local businesses are already social by design, so engaging consumers via the social network is a logical way of attracting new customers.

I think Facebook’s new service represents an entirely new concept for local deals that will differ from existing offers and will benefit from the social network’s unprecedented reach and membership base. I look forward to seeing it in action!

For more information, check out White’s post on The Facebook Blog.

Coupons, Discounts and the Customer Experience

Friday, April 22, 2011

At our Search Starts Here conference earlier this week, I listened in on the panel discussion with Rich Razgaitis of Reach Deals and Martin Tobias of Tipper to hear more about the raipdly growing daily deal business model.

With more than 500 daily deal sites out there, it’s clear that the model is driving people in the doors of small- and medium-sized businesses. While advertisers discount their product/services and share profits with the daily deal provider, they’re not being asked to pay anything up front – a very attractive model to some small businesses looking for new customers. Different than coupons, the daily deal model incentivizes quick purchases and promotes engagement with purchasers networks. When asked to explain the difference between the daily deal and coupon model, Tobias cited the extremely high and fast redemption rate as compared to coupons (around 70% are used in the first 30 days of purchase). But do businesses win long term?

To be a win-win for SMBs and consumers, daily deal companies should encourage relationships with merchants over time, as opposed to selling as many as they can in one day. This will allow for a particular business to repeat this model in a month, three months, or even quarterly.

It’ll be interesting to see how this model expands in 2011. I’ve heard about a few examples of BtoB-type daily deals in the past month. Will niche companies come up to target these particular audiences, or will bigger players like Groupon set aside a specialized sales force for this audience? There are companies out there that can help with different components of the model (admin and customer account management, software, deal sourcing, etc.). Tobias said, “everyone in this room should try to have the deal businesses be part of their business.”

We Are Local Search

Friday, April 22, 2011

Read more on our rebranding to Local Search Association.

Sustainability Report: Yellow Pages Use 35% Less Paper Than in 2007

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last year we launched our inaugural sustainability report as the Yellow Pages Association. The purpose of this report was not only to highlight our industry’s progress and address common misperceptions, but also to set the stage for where we hope to go. Today, as the Local Search Association, we’re releasing our second annual sustainability report, which for the first time reflects the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.

Key highlights from our 2011 report include:

  • An upgraded consumer website at www.yellowpagesoptout.com that makes it easier to choose to reduce or stop directory delivery (you can read more about our consumer choice efforts here).
  • Directory paper demand decreased an additional 8.1% in 2010, totaling nearly 35% in paper reduction since 2007.
  • Directory recovery rate increased to 36.9% according to the latest Environmental Production Agency data. This figure is up from 21.4% in last year’s report.
  • Telephone directories continue to only represent 0.3% of the solid waste stream, significantly less than newspapers (3.2%) and office paper (2.2%).
  • An array of strategic partnerships focused on environmental, economic and social performance.

I’m pleased with these year-on-year improvements, but our work isn’t done. Through the progress of our individual member companies and the innovative ideas put forth by our newly formed Sustainability Committee, I’m confident next year’s report will be even better.

To find out about Earth Day activities happening in your community and to pledge your own act of green, please take a few minutes to visit the Earth Day Network’s Billion Acts of Green website.

Backstage with Yvette Lui, Facebook

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Read our full recap of Yvette Lui’s presentation.

Facebook’s Yvette Lui: Local Businesses are Social by Design

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

 

Facebook’s director of North America sales Yvette Lui spoke at the close of Search Starts Here. After spending six years at Google before moving to Facebook, Lui experienced first-hand the shift to a social web. Her goal at Facebook? To make sure every small business in the U.S. is successful using their platform.

As Lui explained, consumers initially came online with a particular topic or place in mind – an essentially static and anonymous online experience. Then search came along and that helped us find new businesses, among other things. Next we used the web to compare before we got to the social stage we’re in today, which is largely about the advice and opinions of our personal network.. This last stage – the social web – is profoundly different than any of the others in that it’s 100% personal. Rather than coming online with a topic in mind, Liu says we “come to listen and learn” from the people and businesses we care about.

She shared with us three key insights she learned at Facebook: 1) local businesses are already social by design, 2) online took the social out of local, and 3) now local can be social online and off. Operating within this framework, she had the following advice for small business owners:

  • Create an authentic identity to foster relationships
  • Advertise to build a community
  • Bring people to your business with social ideas
  • Make the point of sale and in-store experience social
  • Run sponsored stories to amplify the word of mouth and help new people discover your business.

For Facebook in particular, this last piece – amplified word of mouth – has the potential to reach a large audience and quickly. With the average user having 130 friends on the social networking site, connecting with one loyal customer can mean potentially tapping into 130 more people that know and trust their friends “likes,” “check-ins,” or comments. By incentivizing customers to check-into your store and share their opinions/experience with their friends, the ROI potential from this investment in engagement is huge.

Some other facts I found interesting from the Q&A portion of her talk:

  • Facebook has a small dedicated team thinking about how they can reach small business at a greater scale
  • Each business may measure the ROI of Facebook differently, but Lui considers the number of people they interact and connect with (the interaction rate) where the real ROI is
  • Even if click-throughs aren’t particularly high, Facebook ads can significantly increase brand recognition and boost search results for a small business.

Great information for our attendees and savvy advise for their clients.

See our backstage interview with Yvette Lui.

Panel on Pay-Per-Call 101

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mike Ostrom, national sales director, Ai Media Group, moderated a session this morning on how pay-per-call is evolving to a new media selling and buying approach. Panel participants included:

  • David Read, director-Sales-Pay-Per-Call, AT&T Advertising Solutions
  • Daniel Shaked, founder and CEO, NO PROBLEM
  • Craig Hagopian, CMO, xAD
  • John Elliott, VP and GM, Ziplocal

As background, pay-per-call is a performance-based offering in which advertisers only pay when inbound phone calls are received. These phone calls-which can come from a combination of platforms including online, mobile, and direct mail-typically must qualify in some way to be a quality lead. The cost per call paid by the advertiser to the provider is related to the revenue the former is expected to generate from the opportunity.

Read discussed AT&T’s efforts over the past three years to build out its pay-per-call offering, which he said is proving to be a valuable addition to sales teams in attracting new advertisers. Read described the differences between AT&T’s fixed cost per call rates – which apply to specific headings and categories with more straight-forward, standard pricing – and its bidded rates that are more open and apply across a variety of industries.

Shaked talked about the importance of providing a comprehensive platform that allows both consumers and advertisers to interact with one another. Shaked said NO PROBLEM allows consumers to post their service need, and then enables advertisers to bid on the service in real-time based on their immediate new business demand. Each advertiser’s cost per call is based on their unique bid for the job. The advantage of this approach is that if an advertiser decides not to bid on the job at all (e.g., they’re too busy with existing business), they do not have to pay anything.

Hagopian brought up the importance of qualifying advertisers and their ability to convert calls they receive into sales. He said providers need to have an understanding of how advertisers are handling incoming calls so they are not held to account if the business does not generate news sales from calls they pay for. Hogopian also said providers should provide customized, incremental offerings to advertisers, who may have other lead generation services already in place and do not need duplicated services.

Elliot said that advertisers want to pay for results only, and so proof points for results are extremely valuable. He explained that Ziplocal listens to and qualifies every single call and provides its advertisers with the ability to also listen to both qualified and unqualified calls using a personalized dashboard.

Overall, I found this to be a very interesting session — and it was highly attended! Pay-per-call is clearly an offering that our industry sees as having great potential for the future.

Telmetrics’ C.J. Arseneau on What’s Next in Call-Based Performance Measurement

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I had the opportunity to attend an interesting presentation this morning by C.J. Arseneau, director of marketing, Telmetrics, on the latest opportunities in call-based performance measurement.

Telmetrics is a call measurement solutions company that works with publishers and agencies to prove the performance of traditional and digital advertising. As consumers are increasingly inundated with a variety of media choices, there is a growing need for advertisers to have a presence across a variety of channels. With that, advertisers are demanding more transparency and proof of return on investment for their marketing campaigns.

As Arseneau explained, calls play an important role in helping to demonstrate the value of advertising to businesses. In fact, according to recent BIA/Kelsey data, small businesses value calls almost as highly as in-person visits. The value on calls is much higher than online click-throughs.

Arseneau overviewed two Telmetics offerings that are illustrating how specific advertising campaigns are driving quality calls to businesses:

  • Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) enables providers to attribute calls to specific advertising campaigns. Through this service, phone numbers on advertiser websites are dynamically replaced with call tracking numbers based on how the user arrived at the webpage. These tracking numbers are tied to specific search engine or keyword campaigns, so advertisers know where calls are coming from and providers can ensure that they receive credit for all the leads they generate.
  • Speech2Text automatically tracks and transcribes calls and provides data for advertiser review in real-time. The service provides detailed analytics on the keywords used on calls that helps inform marketing, sales and operations departments at businesses about the impact of their advertising strategies.

Arseneau also talked about growing importance of mobile users to local advertisers and the evolution of mobile call tracking. Arseneau said 51% of calls placed to local search ads (not just mobile) are placed via mobile carriers. She said that mobile call tracking to validate, prove and monetize existing high quality leads is currently being developed.

Finally, Arseneau said that there is increased use of call tracking in social media. She said more advertisers are using social media overall: with almost 50% of companies in NA using social media to run paid search campaigns, and about 64% planning to increase their budget investment in social media this year.

Chris Borrink of Allied Van Lines: The World I Live In Is Lead Generation

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chris Borrink, vice president interactive for Allied Van Lines / NorthAmerican Van Lines, kicked off this morning’s general assembly with a 360-degree view of the local search industry.

“The world I live in is lead generation,” Borrink said. “We have a strong channel focus … we pay attention to every media that deliver leads.”

Borrink showed that a multichannel approach is important to his organization’s leads generation. How people find a mover? According to the company’s statistics, 31% of Allied’s leads come through a search engine, 19% through print Yellow Pages, 17% through local search sites, 9% through Internet Yellow Pages, 8% through the company website, and 5% through local newspaper or magazine.

But what are the major challenges to this approach? Borrink says that more ads need to be measured. According to Borrink, the cost of metered ads is not an issue. It’s the cultural challenge of changing an agent’s phone number – one he’s had for 30 years.

Borrink says that Google is an important part of driving leads.

“Google is a beautiful model for creating competition and for getting new business … There is no question in our minds about organic placement as it relates to volume. We need to keep our agents aware of that.”

Borrink cautioned that using paid Google listings to outbid competitors’ pricing, will at some point not be a profitable.

“They are trying to outbid the other guy to get more volume. At some point, that is not profitable.”

Monday’s Top Tweets From #LocalSearch11

Monday, April 18, 2011

Our Search Starts Here attendees are busy tweeting about the news from today’s sessions. See some of our favorites below and join in the conversation by using the #localsearch11 hashtag.

sengineland Search Engine Land: Yellow Pages Industry Association Changes Name To Focus On “Local Search” http://selnd.com/hwukx0

RecycleMatch Recycle Match: RT @localsearchassn: Neg Norton: YP publishers have reduced paper usage 35 percent since 2007. #localsearch11

brendanking Brendan King: CEO of YPG 2/3 of smb’s want a single point of contact. Think about it. #ypa11 #localsearch11

DMNews DirectMarketingNews: Yellow Pages Association rebrands as Local Search Association http://ow.ly/1cetlq

AlanSee Alan See: join @MartinGTobias @richraz2 and @AlanSee for “Coupons, Discounts and the Customer Experience” at #localsearch11 Tuesday 9am Octavius 20

localseoguide Andrew Shotland: @yellowpages_ca using Radian6 to monitor brand mentions on the Web. Hello YPG social media monitors :) #localsearch11