Archive for July, 2011

Appearance on ‘Green is Good’ Radio Show

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I look forward to opportunities to communicate about the sustainability leadership of our members, which is why I was particularly pleased to have been invited to speak on the highly regarded, international radio show, Green is Good. Too often, the real stories and investments behind these ongoing member efforts are overlooked.

The show features interviews with businesses leaders and organizations committed to a vision for a sustainable future, and to providing a positive path forward. The show’s creator, John Shegerian, models these principles in his own successful ventures like Electronic Recyclers International, one of the largest global companies tackling the critical issue of E-Waste.

In my 30 minutes on the show, we discussed a range of member practices and industry trends that reflect our environmental stewardship, commitment to local economies and strategic community partner approach.

It’s time we ran with that ball more often, and I’ll be sharing more thoughts on those topics very soon.
Click here to listen to the show.

Why Mobile & Online Coupons Are Fastest-Growing Platforms for Local Business Advertising

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In our “Locals Only” column on Search Engine Land this month, I discuss two platforms that really caught my attention with the release of our “State of Local Search” study last week: mobile and online coupons.

As I note in the article, mobile and online are growing by leaps and bounds as ways for consumers to find local business information. I also provide key takeaways from the data that can help inform local businesses on how they can leverage these platforms to attract new customers.

Click here to read the full article on Search Engine Land.

Google Places Removes Business Reviews from Third-Party Local Sites

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Google Places, the popular service that features pages for millions of local businesses across the country, made a major move last week by removing snippets of customer reviews featured on its site that were taken from third-party local sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and CitySearch.

The change was welcomed by the affected local sites, which have argued that their reviews were proprietary. Moving forward, Google Places will only feature reviews written by its own users.

Click here to read full coverage of the change by The Wall Street Journal.

Automated Direct Messages on Twitter … Marketing Automation Run Amok?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alan See (@AlanSee), Vice President of Marketing at Berry Network Inc., an AT&T company and Local Search Association member, guests blogs today about the importance of personalization on Twitter.

Imagine two people entering a crowded room.  The first person bursts in and announces:

The second person walks in, looks you in the eye and says:

Which person feels like they are engaging you at a personal level?  Are you starting to feel a degree of rapport with one of them?  My guess is that the second person already has you thinking that there might be some kind of special connection or shared interest.  In fact, you’ve probably forgotten about the first person.  Come on, admit it, you kind of like being the center of someone’s attention!  Maybe not all of the time, but it does feel good when it happens for the right reason.

By definition the center of attention implies a focused awareness.  So, if you’re customer-focused that must mean your customers are at the center of your attention, right?  Well, you wouldn’t get that impression based on some of the automated direct messages hitting my Twitter inbox lately.  Take a look:

  • Thanks for the follow. Please check out our Website at http://xyxyxy or follow us on Facebook.
  • Thank you for following.  Please look me up on Facebook and LinkedIn to get a better sense of who I am and what I do.
  • Thank you for following!  Please check out our Fanpage http://xyxyxy, Website http://xyxyxy and Blog http://xyxyxy.
  • Hey!!  What’s up?  Thanks for the follow.  Check out our FB Fan Page.

OK, these examples are kind of over-the-top; but can you see how the focus is on the brand or individual self and not on their audience?  Sure, they thank their audience for connecting, and are polite when they make their requests to visit the other sites.  But it’s still all about them as the only thing I can hear is, “here I am, come visit me on another site.”  Wow, I’m feeling kind of annoyed because what I’m thinking is; what’s your point and what’s in it for me?  And by the way, I’m on Twitter because I like it, so why are you trying to immediately redirect me to another platform?

Is it really possible to be customer-focused with automated direct messages on Twitter?  Well, it’s probably not impossible, but in my opinion I don’t believe automated direct messages will be perceived as valuable by most of your audience.  And yes that includes the automated messages that thank people for following.  OK, you’re being polite, but that still feels kind of spammy.

A “there you are” approach is relationship building because it’s centered on the audience, and that sets the stage for developing trust.  Direct message strategies that capture attention without making a person feel like their being stocked are not easy to design.  That’s why highly relevant and targeted communication strategies that nurture trust are a competitive advantage.

Local Search Roundup: Sensis + Yelp, AT&T Daily Deals, Dex One Management Offering, Google+

Friday, July 22, 2011

Here are some of the stories making news in the local search space this week.

Sensis Enters Exclusive Partnership with Yelp

Sensis, the Australian Yellow Pages company, announced a partnership with Yelp that will integrate Sensis’ Yellow Pages local business listing data into Yelp and leverage Sensis’ local sales force to launch and embed yelp.com.au into the Australian market. The partnership will also enable Sensis to syndicate Yelp content, ratings and reviews to yellowpages.com.au, Yellow Pages mobile and the Yellow Pages iPhone application. This is the latest in a growing trend of innovative partnerships between Yellow Pages companies and local search sites.

AT&T’s Daily Deals Offering Launches

Screenwerk reports that AT&T’s YP.com has launched its Deal of the Day offering in Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Los Angeles. Those who sign up can receive deals online, via mobile, and by e-mail. AT&T joins a variety of local search companies, including Facebook, Yellow Pages Group, Yellowbook and SuperPages, in providing a daily deals and/or coupon offering connect advertisers and consumers.

Dex One Launches Reputation Management Service

Dex One introduced a reputation management offering to help customers better manage and protect their online presence. The service allows advertisers to monitor their business listings, reviews and mentions on major search engines, directories and social media platforms. An online dashboard displays graphs, charts, and consumer content related to a business, and offers ways to manage and improve visibility and reputation in four key areas: competition, reviews, social media and visibility.

Google+ Surpasses 10 Million Users

Google+, the new social networking service from Google that is receiving widespread media attention, announced that it had attracted more than 10 million registered users. But there was initial concern about the site’s ability to keep users interested after Experian Hitwise, an online measurement firm, reported the site attracted a small 1.8 million total estimated visits last week. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on Google+ and how we can leverage this new platform for local search.

AT&T Interactive Launches New In-App Local Ads

Friday, July 22, 2011

One of the major highlights of our newly released “State of Local Search” study is the fast-growing role that mobile search – and mobile apps in particular– are playing among consumers searching for local content.

In yet another example of our industry’s anticipation of and reaction to the latest consumer trends, AT&T Interactive this month launched an in-app local ad service on its mobile network. According to the company’s press release, this technology will provide local businesses with an enhanced way to generate higher-quality leads by increasingly the local relevancy of ads, while at the same time increasing potential reach.

Mobile local advertising is expected to grow at a 57% compounded annual growth rate to over $2 billion by 2014, according to BIA/Kelsey. The firm also announced recently that it predicts local mobile advertising will grow from 51% of total mobile advertising today to 70% by 2015. Clearly, this latest offering will better position AT&T to benefit from growth in the local mobile space over the next several years.

When determining the potential of in-app ads both generally and for AT&T in particular, look no further than the results of the offerings’ pilot period. AT&T successfully generated more than 750 million impressions in only three months – demonstrating how in-app local ads are playing a growing role in redefining how area advertisers connect with consumers.

Read AT&T Interactive full release here.

Courthouse News: ‘Court Takes a Shine to Yellow Pages Publishers’

Friday, July 22, 2011

As we’ve discussed on the blog, our industry is suing the City of Seattle over its recently-passed ordinance governing phone book distribution. Just last week, our lawyers argued in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals about why we believe the Seattle ordinance is flawed.

Courthouse News posted a comprehensive recap of the oral argument that’s worth reading. According to the article, the three-judge appellate panel asked some tough questions about the ordinance.

Click here to read the full recap.

A New Resource for the Local Job Search

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

As part of our 2011 transformation, today we’re rolling out our newest endeavor – localsearchassociation.org/jobjolt.

This new employment portal will serve as a local search industry specific resource for job seekers nationwide.

In partnership with the Association’s newest member, Jobjolt, we have built a tool that will showcase a wide array of industry functions and attract top talent for our members and other organizations.

Jobjolt brings its unique platform for connecting job seekers, providing online career training and offering expert guides to help fulfill an unmet need within the industry. There’s currently no single resource for employers and job seekers to find each other online.

The Local Search Association is the natural connection point for bringing together the industry’s top talent with premier providers of local search marketing tools to local businesses.

As an added benefit, our members will receive a 25% discount on all job postings to the site which, at launch, will include more than 500 listings from over 125 employers.

We are extremely excited to be working with Jobjolt on this new industry hub, which showcases our efforts to include a broader range of local search players.

As we continue our transformation as an industry and as an Association, we’ll continue to look for new tools and features that help benefit the local search community.

You can check out the new site at localsearchassociation.org/jobjolt and read our press release here.

Double-Digit Growth of Online and Mobile Local Search

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today we’re releasing new data from comScore that shows more people are turning to online and mobile platforms to find local business information.

This is welcome news for local search companies, which are investing with full-force in new ways to improve our approaches to digital and mobile search – both in terms of the advertising opportunities they offer local business clients and the experiences they provide consumers accessing.

Online Local Search Shows Strong Growth and Consumer Satisfaction

This year’s “State of Local Search” study found that local searches now account for 13% of all core search activity on top web search portals as of March 2011.

Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) and Local Search Sites:

  • IYPs and local search sites exhibited strong growth with 5.6 billion local searches in 2010, a 15% increase over 2009.
  • Brand recognition is a key driver of IYP searches. Approximately 58% of respondents who choose an IYP site first (DexKnows, SuperPages, Yellowbook, and YP.com) do so  due to brand recognition and reputation, while 30%  chose an IYP site first because of its reputation for local business information.

Interestingly, the study determined that portal searches are more likely to conduct local searches as part of broad information gathering, while primary IYP searches more often conduct local searches to look for contact information with specific products and services in mind.

More than half of local business searchers choosing portal or IYP sites said they were highly satisfied and found success in their search experience – an indication of how well our industry is doing creating consumer-friendly offerings.

Additionally, online daily deal offers and discounts  emerged as an additional customer acquisition channel for local businesses. The  study found that primary IYP searchers were less likely to report purchasing online daily deal coupons for local businesses than business searchers on other sites (27 percent vs. 38 percent).

Mobile Search Skyrockets

Mobile local search also showed unprecedented growth this year. In January 2011, 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content on a mobile device, up 34% from the previous year. The study found that local content users now account for 33% of mobile subscribers.

Top findings also include:

  • Strong growth for the number of local search users owning a GPS-capable handset, which grew from 78% to 87%.
  • Local content now dominates mobile usage behaviors, with subscribers increasingly turning to mobile for information on maps, weather, traffic, retail and other local content.
  • The ways that local content users access content via mobile is changing. App use for mobile content grew 34% last year, with 56% of respondents using apps for local content. Browsers lead in usage of local content with 73%, but dropped from 75% last year. Local content via SMS dropped to 25% from 30%.

comScore’s data illustrate the ongoing shift of consumers towards digital and mobile platforms for local business information. Our industry’s rapid embrace of these platforms, particularly in the past year through new partnership agreements, mobile app launches and other initiatives, will enable local businesses to connect with consumers in these increasingly popular locations.

Listen in on Webinar: July 20 at 2pm EDT

comScore and the Local Search Association will be presenting additional findings on usage and conumser experiences with online and mobile local business search activity from this study in a complimentary webinar, July 20th at 2pm EDT. Click here to register for the webinar.

Member Discusses Benefits of Local Search Association

Friday, July 15, 2011

At the Local Search Association’s annual conference in April, one of our members shared her thoughts on the benefits of “widening the scope” of membership in the Association.