Archive for April, 2012

Wishpond: Your Digital Marketing Solutions Partner

Monday, April 30, 2012

The “Lightning Round” session at our recent annual conference, “Search Starts Here,” generated very positive feedback. As an extension of the session, we’ve offered the opportunity for its participants to further showcase their companies and offerings here on Local Search Insider. Our first contributor is Ian S. Cruickshank, chief revenue officer of Wishpond Technologies.

You don’t need us to tell you that that consumer behavior has changed, and continues to change.

Local search businesses have two huge assets: established relationships, and active, talented sales forces. The easiest way for you to continue to provide value to your clients, and grow your revenue, is through an easy-to-use, simple-to-explain suite of digital solutions that are seamless additions to a client’s existing services.

Wishpond is a leading provider of product-based digital media solutions for merchants, brands and malls – with offerings covering mobile, social, and local search. Our mission is to build easy-to-use marketing tools that deliver engagement, insights and returns. With our roots in local product search, including a powerful search API, the marketing solutions we deliver for offline and online retailers provide tight integration with existing inventory systems and boast nimble cross-platform user interfaces.

You have the brand, the reach, and the sales force. We have the digital marketing product suite, self-serve applications, and local product data. Together we can continue to provide outstanding value to your clients.

We would love to talk to you further about working together. For more information, check out my full presentation at “Search Starts Here” or contact me directly at ian@wishpond.com.

AT&T Interactive’s Local Insights Report Lists Top Local Search Cities and Most Popular Categories

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Last week, AT&T Interactive released the first quarter 2012 edition of its Local Insights Report. The report, which analyzes data from 528 million searches and 10 billion impressions across the YP Local Ad Network’s online, mobile and IPTV platforms, offered an interesting look into the rapidly evolving local search space.

Among many highlights in this quarter’s report was a list of the top cities for local search. As expected, densely populated cities including New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago took the first four spots on the list. However, Atlanta – which is in a different category as the 40th most populous city in the U.S. – surprisingly came in at number five. The city also experienced year-over-year local mobile search growth of a whopping 108% – further demonstrating that it is quickly becoming a local hotspot.

The report also highlighted the unique behaviors of mobile and online local searchers. While Restaurants and Automotive were the top search topics on both platforms, Movie Theaters, Beauty Services and Hotels rounded out the top five for mobile while Finance, Real estate and Legal completed the top five for online. These findings seem to indicate that mobile searchers are more likely to look for products and services on the spot for immediate purchases, while online searchers are more prone to look for larger and less frequent purchases.

Click here to read more about these results as well as other insights on local search trends, including the top local search categories, top growing local search categories, notable holiday trends and more. As marketers, this data is invaluable in helping us understand our business and make valuable recommendations to our clients.

‘Search Starts Here’: Reinventing the Directory Organization

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our own Brad Carson, vice president of operations, moderated a relevant and insightful conversation yesterday morning with change management experts about the bold moves necessary to drive the transformation of global directory organizations into multi-platform local media agencies.

While the session highlighted numerous successful approaches and provided valuable recommendations on what our industry can do to ensure its continued leadership in local search, I wanted to highlight several topics that really caught my attention.

Peter Buxton, principal at Buxton Independent Consulting and a veteran of ITT World Directories, discussed the successful road taken by Pages Jaunes, to become an innovative and well-respected digital player.

Buxton explained how Pages Jaunes recognized in 2000 that consumers and advertisers would be increasingly turning to digital local search options. He noted that the company was able to successfully build out its online offerings: today, more than half its revenue is in digital and its website, Pagesjuanes.fr, is fifth most-visited in France.

Buxton described actions taken by the Pages Jaunes to reinvest in its print offerings – including re-scoping, redesigning, and updating pricing – that have helped mitigate revenue declines. He said the company is  known in France as a “sexy” and “modern” multimedia company that is at the cutting edge of its field.

Buxton also said that any strategy undertaken by a company in our industry isn’t a good one unless it can be implemented through its sales force. He said that sales teams should be confident and excited when speaking with clients about the value of print Yellow Pages and constructive about how the platform can work in their marketing plans.

Kathy Geiger-Schwab, principal at Geiger-Schwab Consulting LLC, highlighted several “rules” that print publishers should live by in their transition efforts. Geiger-Schwab noted that CEOs must be executive champions of change, that leadership must be aligned and that companies must not just remodel their growth but reinvent it completely.

Geiger-Schwab also said that the industry must deliver on every promise it makes to customers in order to retain their trust. She added that sales teams must know the value proposition of each offering in their portfolio and not push options that don’t have value to particular customers. She suggests an honest, open approach will pay off significantly down the line.

Richard Selvaraj, senior program manager – Media & Information Services BPO at Tata Consultancy Services, discussed his company’s partnerships with directory publishers to optimize operational efficiency and reduce costs. Selvaraj said Tata can provide support around key data functions including account, ordering and listing management and creative areas like in-column ad production, pagination and display ad production. He suggested that publishers look to outsourcing these functions as a way to improve profitability.

‘Search Starts Here’: BIA/Kelsey interviews Bill Dinan, president, Telmetrics

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, Matt Booth of BIA/Kelsey interviewed Bill Dinan, president of call measurement company Telmetrics. While there’s no doubt that search engines drive a lot of economic activity, Bill explained how Yellow Pages search products are closer to the transaction and more aligned with the “find” in search and find. He went on to say that what our companies need to continue doing is communicating this opportunity with local businesses through a simplified, value-based sales approach.

Some managing advertising for local businesses understand the complexities of online options, but what’s most effective for the majority is an ROI-focused offering like “I’m going to get you 500 clicks through X program.”  As the market further transitions to mobile, it will be interesting to see what metrics and characteristics best translate in this space.

‘Search Starts Here’: Global Yellow Pages Revenues Will Be Approximately 60% Digital by 2016

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In a jam-packed session this morning, BIA/Kelsey senior vice presidents Charles Laughlin and Matt Booth overviewed highlights from their latest “Global Yellow Pages” report, which analyzes and projects Yellow Pages revenues. Among their key findings: Yellow Pages revenues are projected to be increasingly digital in the coming years, while print revenues are anticipated to stabilize.

BIA/Kelsey’s research indicates that global Yellow Pages revenues will be about 60% digital by 2016. While the industry has and will continue to experience significant print revenue declines between 2006-2016, the industry has and will continue to make up a total of $9.4 billion in digital growth during the same period, the firm projects.

Laughlin noted that some revenue shifts are deliberate as publishers make proactive efforts to leverage new opportunities in the digital space. He said that digital growth will pick up as operators focus on higher volume digital products like websites, as opposed to Internet Yellow Pages. By 2016, BIA/Kelsey projects that global Yellow Pages revenues overall will begin to stabilize, with digital as a larger share of the total.

The share of digital Yellow Pages revenues varies by country. Today, 22% of U.S. revenues are digital, compared to 37% in the UK, 51% in France and 60% in Sweden. By 2016, BIA/Kelsey projects that digital revenues will be 53% of total in the U.S., 68% in France, 78% in the UK and 84% in Sweden. These notable differences can be attributed to the local media environment and consumer trends in each individual country. Laughlin noted that in Sweden for example, keyword search platforms and verticals are highly utilized by consumers.

Interestingly, Laughlin also said that directory publishers are making faster inroads into digital versus other local media like newspapers, radio and television.

What factors could improve the picture for Yellow Pages revenues in the coming years? Laughlin noted several:

  • Stronger economic growth
  • Improved sales execution – moving away from selling on product and price, to selling results for advertisers
  • Execution of a product set with high lock-in with small business advertisers
  • Seizing opportunities in mobile
  • Breakthrough innovation

He also listed factors that could dampen the picture:

  • Weaker economic growth
  • Failure to fix sales force
  • Failure to execute
  • Failure to seize opportunities like mobile
  • Failure to improve/change the culture

Laughlin said that the economy aside, future growth for Yellow Pages companies was attainable and completely within their hands.

Making Money From Social Media

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Use of social networking sites for local search has grown 67% since 2010. Will Scott, owner of Search Influence, and Mike Boland, a mobile-focused analyst from BIA/Kelsey, led a session on leveraging this rapidly expanding space. Some insights I learned this morning:

  • Increased interaction through user reviews has contributed to the growth of social media for local search. As we blogged about yesterday, user reviews are a key component of business listings.
  • Those users most likely to review a business are also most likely to be frequent social media users. What this means for advisors is an increased need to focus on frequent social media users, both for their high degree of influence in their respective social channels, and the higher likelihood they’ll rate a particular business.
  • Twice as many SMBs 0-3 years old used social media as compared to those 11-plus, who are using social media primarily for retention (as opposed to acquisition).
  • Overall social media use for SMBs is just over half at 54%.

According to Will, Facebook is taking the lead in terms of frequency of use and opportunities to reach consumers, but there are a number of opportunities on the variety of channels. The “Facebook Like Box” creates a touchpoint into social for SMB websites and sponsored stories have worked well for many of his clients. Will cautions, “fans are not the end game” – you need to create converts. Whether Facebook or another channel, people convert because of good and complete content.

Earning the ‘Trusted Advisor’ Role Requires Sales Team Coaching

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bob Sanders, president and COO of Axiom Sales Force Development, kicked the morning off with a breakout talk on the importance of coaching in our sales organizations.

Sanders says that, in today’s environment, customers can get more information about what we might be able to do for them then they ever have before.

“Unfortunately for us, our sales people are continuing to pitch to customers who actually already have access to product information..  They’re pitching to a customer that needs help figuring it out.”

According to Sanders, coaching is the single most important factor in transitioning sales staff from vendor/pitchman to trusted advisor.

“When we become a trusted advisor to the customers, not only do we learn a whole lot more about their business but we end up selling a whole lot more.  Companies that are perceived as trusted advisors outsell companies that are perceived as vendors.”

Sanders recommends a process called GUIDE for coaches to achieve fundamental behaviors:

  • Goals – All coaches set goals; they ask ”What is it that you want to accomplish?” and help create a plan to achieve it.
  • Uncovering Gaps – Coaches evaluate performance gaps and behavioral gaps.
  • Identifying root cause – Sanders says the root cause is always capacity, commitment, skill or knowledge.
  • Defining corrective action – Sanders said to ask the sales person what developmental assignments they’ve been given, and you’ll often find that managers haven’t given any – that they’re trying to change the result without changing the meaning by which it’s been produced.
  • Evaluating performance – The best coaches are constantly looking to see if what they are doing is adding value to the salesperson.

“You will find that there is precious little coaching going on,” Sanders said.

Broad Coalition Joins Local Search Industry in Promoting Yellow Pages

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I’m excited to announce a new coalition of local search companies, elected officials, consumer advocacy organizations, and small business owners who have committed to raising greater awareness outside the local search community of the value of print Yellow Pages and programs that allow consumers to control directory delivery.

Together, we are launching an information website at www.LocalPaysOffCoalition.org to educate Americans on the role print Yellow Pages play in offering an easy and free source of information for consumers who like buying locally. The site provides visitors with information on Yellow Pages usage and facts on our industry’s sustainability and consumer choice programs. The site also profiles our coalition members who support the delivery of print Yellow Pages.

Our efforts will also raise visibility for print Yellow Pages as a catalyst for encouraging consumers to buy locally, which adds to the economic prosperity, sustainability, diversity of trusted offerings, and availability of job opportunities in communities. We believe that our comprehensive message will resonate with local community leaders and their constituents, and demonstrate that legislation targeting print directories is harmful and unnecessary.

Visit www.LocalPaysOffCoalition.org and read our press release here for more information. And join us in spreading the word about our efforts.

‘Search Starts Here’: Local Mobile Innovators Discuss Success & Best Practices

Monday, April 23, 2012

Three local mobile innovators participated in a great discussion this morning on their successes in the mobile space and offered valuable best practices recommendations for otherslooking to build opportunities in the area.

BIA/Kelsey analyst Mike Boland kicked off the session “The Local Mobile Ecosystem – Where are the dollars?” by highlighting the growing intersection of mobile and local. Boland noted Google data that 40% of searches conducted on mobile are local searches, compared to 20% of desktop searches. Clearly, this is key growth opportunity for our industry and our advertising clients.

Chris Folmar, director of Mobile Development at SuperMedia, made clear that “mobile is the medium of the immediate” and one that our industry needs to engage in or face failure. He discussed how mobile content is successful when it’s timely, relevant and actionable.

Folmer talked about monetizing mobile offerings in ways that don’t result in advertising that hinders the user experience. He stressed the importance of focusing on the end of the user experience – specifically, the phone call to a local business – to ensure that mobile is successful: he said the call wait time needs to be as short is possible or businesses will lose customers. He also highlighted how mobile is the first search platform that consumers use that they take with them to the cash register – creating an entirely new way for us to demonstrate the bridge from search to sale.

Folmar also referenced transformation of SuperMedia’s mobile offerings from a relatively outdated WAP mobile site to a comprehensive portfolio of mobile apps optimized for every major mobile platform. He showed how with each iteration of the company’s mobile innovation, SuperMedia drove more page views, unique visitors and calls. As we blogged here on Local Search Insider, Folmar’s efforts resulted in the prestigious MediaPost 2012 Appy Award.

David Kurtz, Vice President, Publisher Products, AT&T Interactive noted that with the dramatic shift of consumers to mobile, it is inevitable that ad dollars will follow. Kurtzsaid that the time spent on mobile versus the number of advertisements in the space is “completely out of whack.” As far as he is concerned, mobile will be the “first screen strategy” for advertisers in the near future.

Kurtz said it’s necessary not to simply repurpose web advertising models into mobile, since it’s a completely unique experience. He said that mobile is its own space in that it is always with the consumer, is highly personalized and is used in different contexts. He stressed that mobile content needs to be developed with a clear goal in mind, do one thing really well, and reflect a “less is more” approach. He said that companies need to better understand the effectiveness of mobile and how quickly purchases are made through the platform.

Krishna Pillai, COO and Founder, Convergent Mobile categorized our industry’s opportunities in mobile under three themes:

  • App Monetization: Create a great user experience from both business and publisher sides that has an efficient call to action and relevant search results.
  • Mobile Web: Determine a monetization model – subscription, ad-supported, pay per call or mobile commerce – that successfully targets people on the move and is fully integrated with online, social and SMS efforts.
  • SMS Marketing: Leverage either a subscription model based on keyword/message or call to action/pay per call that is bundled with online, social, as well as print, TV and radio.

Pillai made clear that mobile programs require a minimum 12-month contract since it takes time to build an opt-in database and must continue to support long-form advertising such as print. He said that pricing models, consumer awareness and mobile ad spending levels continue to be the key challenges facing companies building advertising opportunities in mobile.

Local Search Association Co-op Products: All Media Welcome

Monday, April 23, 2012

The following post is from Val Onyski, director of operations at the Local Search Association.

I know that many sales reps are aware of co-op, but they may not be familiar with the products available to help them through the Local Search Association.  Or, they may know the Association has these products, but are not familiar with how to use them.

Traditionally, the Local Search Association  produced a Co-Op Advertising Programs Handbook twice a year that contained co-op programs for about 800 brands.

Today, the Association still offers the printed handbook – some reps just love keeping the book in their car! – but also offers the data via Co-Op Online and a corresponding mobile/iPad application. And both the online and mobile/iPad app have over 1,800 product brands listed!

While some in our industry may think that usage of co-op programs is diminishing – it’s actually growing.  The Association is now gathering data for co-op programs that offer Internet Yellow Pages advertising, mobile advertising, and direct mail, among other offerings.

The Association also offers members free classes about how to best utilize our online and mobile co-op products so that they can find what they want, when they want it – fast!  Contact Judy Tepel today to find out more about our co-op products and to learn how to use them at 248-244-6208 or judy.tepel@localsearchassociation.org.