Archive for June, 2012

BIA/Kelsey MLM SF: Final Thoughts from San Francisco

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The BIA/Kelsey Mobile Local Media conference finished up yesterday with an excellent group of speakers, highlighting a range of topics that covered the full spectrum of mobile revenue models, mobile content creation, investment in mobile and more.

I really enjoyed a standout interview with David Hornik, general partner at August Capital, who likened a successful business to an unmentionable virus. Hornik humorously described the ups and downs of finding the right start-up investments.

Hornik was followed by a variety of great speakers and panelists, including Aisle411′s Nathan Pettyjohn, Pandora’s Doug Sterne, Marchex Institute’s John Busby, DudaMobile’s Itai Sadan, WillowTree Apps’ Tobias Dengel, among others.

As always, the BIA/Kelsey team delivered a really full agenda, plenty of networking and an great location in San Francisco. I found the investment in time and resources well worth it.  To learn more about their services, visit their website.

BIA/Kelsey MLM SF: Conversation with Stewart Alsop, Partner, Alsop Louis Partners

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Matt Booth, BIA/Kelsey’s chief strategist and program director, participated in a great conversation with Stewart Alsop, partner at Alsop Louis Partners, about investment in technology and entrepreneurship.

Stewart described his company’s approach to venture capitalism: being the first investors in a project and having a close connection with the technical team. He said his firm looks for outlier companies that require it to predict how they will fare in the market.

Stewart said his job is to take a normal investment and multiply it. He noted that he does not participate in “momentum” investing such as the app business, which he thinks is a temporary market. Stewart described how the app market solved the browser issue, and overviewed how new offerings like Funsockets enable users to play games without an app at all. He said that users are not interested in format, just the offering they receive. Stewart said that the market will get to a place where we don’t need to go to the store to get games, among other things.

Stewart said that Facebook continues to face issues on the mobile front, and that it’s a problem that needs to be solved. He suggested that Facebook put together a team to work on the issue.

Stewart concluded by saying the consumers still want to talk on the phone, so it will make sense to invest in companies that blend search and talk.

What an interesting conversation with a man with deep experience in so many areas.

BIA/Kelsey MLM SF: Fireside Chat w/ Mihir Shah, VP Mobile, Groupon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peter Kravilovsky, VP Markeplaces at BIA/Kelsey, held a fireside chat with Mihir Shah, VP Mobile, Groupon that focused on Groupon’s business and what is driving their growth strategy.

Mihir said that mobile “is a big part of our business,” noting that 30% of all Groupon purchases in April were conducted via mobile devices. He said that over the past 12 months, mobile customers have generally spent 50% more than web-only users.

Mihir overviewed two Groupon initiatives – Products (Goods) and Travel (Getaways) – that the company is launching outside of its core local deals offering. He said the Groupon brand is now being perceived as more than just a daily deals site and that part of Groupon’s mission is discovery, not just deals.

For more on this session, read BIA/Kelsey’s blog item.

BIA/Kelsey MLM SF: Interview w/ Mok Oh, Chief Scientist, PayPal

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BIA/Kelsey’s Mike Boland conducted an interview interview today with Mok Oh, chief scientist at PayPal. As we all know, PayPal is the preeminent digital transaction company with 100 million accounts worldwide.

Mok discussed PayPal’s 17 retailer direct POS integrations. PayPal is preinstalled with POS software vendors including Leapset, Vend and Erply and POS hardware partners including Veifone, Equinox, and Ingenico. Because of the hardware integrations, PayPal is now available at 40 million POS terminals.

Popular retailers Home Depot, Office Depot, JCP, Nine West and others now allow customers to purchase products via PayPal. But how can PayPal help bring in additional customers? How can businesses entice consumers to think about PayPal at the checkout counter?

Mike presented some interesting questions:

  • What value-add does PayPal have versus credit cards, where are an entrenched habit for both merchants and consumers?
  • What advantages does PayPal have over other mobile payment formats?
  • What loyalty programs will be bolted on to leverage closed loop data?
  • Will PayPal create front-end loyalty programs or provide platforms for third parties (or retailers) to build on to?

Mok said PayPal is ready to help merchants and has a lot of ideas, but is often still asking – what is the first step to get us in-store?

Mok also noted that PayPal is addressing privacy concerns and allow consumers to opt-out of information sharing, but legally things are changing constantly. Mok said PayPal follows the rule of always doing “the right thing” for its customers.

What’s next at PayPal? Mok talked about integration with cable providers and set top box hardware to bring its offerings to TV, as well as social media integration opportunities. For example, PayPal just recently integrated ads with Twitter.

We’ll surely be watching with interest as PayPal continues to address these challenges and expand its business.

BIA/Kelsey MLM SF: Mobile and Social – Where’s the Sweet Spot?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jed Williams, analyst and program director, Social Local Media, BIA/Kelsey hosted a panel this morning entitled “Mobile and Social: Where’s the Sweet Spot?,” which overviewed the growing role of mobile and social in consumers’ everyday lives. Participating in the discussion was Mike Ghaffary, director of business development, Yelp; Beau Haugh, co-founder and CTO, Localmind; and Steve Jang, CEO, Schematic Lab.

Some interesting takeaways from the panel:

  • There are more than 105 million smartphones in the U.S.
  • 75% of smartphone users are conducting local searches
  • 80% of consumers prefer ads that are locally relevant
  • Consumers check their phones an average of 40 times per day
  • 91% of consumers keep their mobile phones within arms length 24 hours a day

Steve said that the traditional goals of building websites were ensuring that content was viewed and attracted impressions. He said that the mobile phone is a great agent to capture and share experiences quickly, and noted that we all want our apps to be useful, powerful and provide a feedback loop. He also said that the reality is that the majority of us don’t travel everyday – but are eating, drinking and going to concerts locally, so local and social content is extremely important.

Beau said that mobile apps should be intuitive and navigate the way consumers want them to, providing them with a quick in and out. He said that if the process isn’t immediate, that the chance of achieving initial engagement is more difficult.

Mike noted that Yelp has an enormous database content and that the challenge is how its ported and what experiences are made new. He said that Yelp has decided to make every strategic decision with a “mobile lens.” For instance, restaurant reviews are subject to an algorithm that uses reviews to create rankings for specific dishes. He also talked about Yelp’s efforts to create specific apps for tablet use.

Mike also discussed the value of the check-in and the importance of developing a level of experitise through Facebook and Twitter. He said consumers are really looking for local, authentic experiences in their mobile searches.

BIA/Kelsey’s MLM SF: Google Mobile: Spotlight on the Front Runner

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Earlier this morning, Surojit Chatterjee, Head of Mobile Search Ad Product at Google and his colleague Brendon Kraham, Global Mobile Sales and Product Strategy at Google, participated in a panel with Mike Boland about their company’s mobile strategy and approach to ads and monetization.

Surojit and Brendon outlined some of Google’s mobile products:

  • Google Maps for mobile, one of the most popular apps available, allows advertisers’ websites to be launched directly and as opposed to being bounced from the browser. This prevents losing the user in the process.
  • Custom in-app ads for apps within search. Google serves paid results within an app and splits the revenue.
  • Mobile search ads that link directly to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, including app icons and details within the ads.
  • Mobile search ads that link directly to a page within an installed app. If the users don’t have the app, the ad links to the app download page.
  • Click-to-call features within search ads, providing 6-8% higher CTRs and approximately 15 million calls per month.
Surojit and Brendon elaborated on this last point, noting that mobile advertising is increasingly designing ads to drive calls. They highlighted that sometimes calling a phone number is the only action that a user can take, even when there is a website in the ad.
It’s clear that Google is looking down the mobile road and planning the right apps for mobile advertisers. Exciting stuff!

BIA/Kelsey’s MLM SF: The Real Drivers in Mobile Local Media

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In his opening remarks at BIA/Kelsey Mobile Local Media conference, Mike Boland, senior analyst and MLM Conference Chair, set the stage an important conversation on tactical ways to maximize opportunities in local mobile.

Boland shared some interesting stats for context on the current environment:

  • Consumers bought more smartphones last year than PCs
  • 40% of mobile searches are for local information
  • Mobile usage advertiser share is only 1%. There is still opportunity, but the imbalance is causing mobile ad rates to go down

Moving forward, Boland believes there is a lot of room for growth:

  • Mobile usage is strong
  • Advertisers are evolving
  • Geo-targeting is enabling premium ad rates

For Yelpwhich has been getting a lot of attention lately because of its role in supplying reviews to Apple’s planned Maps offering – mobile is only 10% of monthly traffic, but represents a high 40% of total search traffic on the site. Yelp and others have some work ahead of them to monetize this high usage rate, but the opportunity is clearly there.

Can you believe that OpenTable, the restaurant reservation service, seated 15 million diners via mobile last year? That speaks volumes to how significant mobile is in the local experience, especially the dining category.

Boland said that mobile campaign management deals, landing pages, pay-per-call and paid search were all opportunities for Yellow Pages companies to expand their reach. He also discussed future offerings like wearable technology (Google is working on this) and more in-car offerings.

With such strong activity in mobile, it’s clear there’s a lot for us to discuss today!

Blogging Live from BIA/Kelsey’s Mobile Local Media Conference

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It’s exciting to be in beautiful San Francisco today for BIA/Kelsey’s Mobile Local Media meeting.  A number of great speakers will be here during the all-day event. Some of the big names that caught my attention include:

  • Google Mobile leads Surojit Chatterjee, Head of Mobile Search Ads Products, and Brendon Kraham, Global Mobile Sales Product Strategy
  • Mike Ghaffary, Director of Business Development, Yelp
  • Mok Oh, Chief Scientist, Paypal
  • Chris Folmar, Director of Mobile Development, SuperMedia
  • Mihir Shah, VP, Mobile, Groupon
  • David Kurtz, VP, Publisher Network, YP
  • Anna Martinez, VP of Technology, CityGrid
  • Heidi Browning, Senior VP of Strategic Solutions, Pandora

I’ll be blogging throughout the day and I’m looking forward to talking with the attendees.  More to come as the day progresses!

Local Pays Off: Local Search Industry Supports Buying From Local Businesses to Build Stronger Communities

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

America’s best and most sustainable cities have strong local business economies with vibrant shopping and services that attract new residents, encourage entrepreneurs, and draw other businesses to invest in the community.  One role we play as providers of local search services is to encourage consumers to think about how buying locally pays off for the entire community.

Today we’re launching a new platform – Local Pays Off – that captures that idea.  Local Pays Off is our industry’s pledge to promote local business and the benefits of buying close to home.

Here’s how supporting local businesses pays off for a community:

  • Economic prosperity: Local purchases generate tax revenue for municipalities and serve as a catalyst for job creation and growth.
  • Trusted products and services: Local businesses ensure residents can conveniently get the products and services they need, when they need them, from nearby businesses they know and trust.
  • Environmental improvement: Buying locally requires less transportation, resulting in less sprawl, congestion, pollution and energy use.
  • Vibrancy and diversity: A city’s core is strengthened by local businesses that add vibrancy to city streets, neighborhoods and shopping centers.
  • Opportunity: Strong local businesses meet the specific needs of the community, attract new talent, encourage entrepreneurs, and draw other businesses to invest.

I believe that engaging our industry in the buy local movement makes perfect sense.  For years, Yellow Pages have been the go-to source for information for consumers who want to buy local.  And today, we’re continuing to expand options for consumers who want to buy locally well beyond the print directory – our industry now includes online and mobile Yellow Pages, search engine marketing, SEO, and much more.

I hope everyone in our industry will get behind Local Pays Off and encourage consumers to buy local.  Not only is it good for our business, but it’s good for the clients, consumers, and communities we serve.

For more, go to www.localsearchassociation.org/localpaysoff.

Start Getting Your Business Ready Now for Apple Maps, Google+ Local

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In our monthly Local Search column on Search Engine Land, I discuss the intensifying battle for control of the local search space, as evidenced by the announcements of Apple’s new Maps feature and Google+ Local.

As we know, these announcements have sparked great interest: not only in what the moves mean for the industry, the companies themselves and the consumers who use these offerings everyday, but also in how they will impact local businesses that increasingly count on these tools to drive visibility and ultimately sales.

While many questions remain about how these developments will play out, I outline some key takeaways and next steps that local businesses should explore so that they’re prepared for the new realities presented by these changes.

You can read my full Search Engine Land column here.