Archive for October, 2012

Is Foursquare On Its Way To Becoming A Local Search Star?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Joseph Henson is an Internet Marketing Specialist at  Search Influence, a national online marketing firm focused on small and medium-sized businesses, and white label online marketing products for publishers and media partners who serve them. Search Influence is the largest online marketing company on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans’ only Inc. 500 honoree in 2011.

In terms of monetization and positioning, Foursquare has made great strides in 2012. What started back in 2009 as a “50% friend-finder” app with social gaming and local business review elements, has evolved into a powerful social-local-mobile recommendation engine that has the potential to rival more traditional local search powerhouses like Yelp and Google. The company is also showing promise in creating a mobile advertising platform that is seamlessly integrated and appreciated by users.

Foursquare

Foursquare’s sudden burst of upward momentum can be traced back to last June when the company raised $50 million in a round of venture funding that went towards further building the app’s functionality. Soon after, the company began making robust improvements to their local search feature, “Explore” by including results based on the time of day, friend activity, followed lists, and the 2.5 billion check-ins made by their 25 million users.

In July, Foursquare began its push into monetization with the limited roll-out of promoted updates. These relevant ads are included in search results where a business can promote its services, events, products, and specials. Promoted updates show promise in being a  powerful mobile advertising tool for local and national businesses alike. The options, when compared to the likes of Yelp, are elegantly integrated into the existing Explore search results and are surprisingly relevant, customizable, and targetable.

Foursquare

Most recently, the company took another leap towards local search preeminence by partnering with OpenTable. This partnership allows for deep in-app integration with the restaurant reservation service, allowing Foursquare users to access menus, browse reviews, and make reservations. While the partnership is great news for users, it is a bit of a late effort — Google and Yelp have been integrated with the OpenTable platform for quite some time now.

Foursquare

Foursquare has no signs of slowing down, and it will be interesting to see how events play out now that the company is directly positioning itself against the heavy hitters of local search. While it is true that competitors like Yelp and Google have the advantage of higher amounts of users and traffic, numbers that are sure to increase for Yelp due to recent partnerships with the likes of Bing and Apple, Foursquare still has a variety of qualities that make it a viable competitor. The company truly gets how social-local-mobile should work; its ability to utilize rich behavioral data in search results and integrate relevant advertising cleanly and manageably stands out amongst the competition. If Foursquare can maintain this momentum and form more strategic partnerships in a similar fashion to Yelp, the company could establish itself as a high-engagement marketing tool that both small local businesses and large national brands won’t be able to ignore.

Facebook Makes Waves with Mobile Advertising

Friday, October 26, 2012

Facebook

In these first few months since Facebook went public, there’s been a lot of skepticism out there about the popular social network’s ability to capitalize on the fast-growing mobile ad market.

Back in August, Facebook finally rolled out its first full-fledged advertising offering via mobile. Facebook mobile users began to see display ads in their newsfeeds regardless of whether they or their connections “like” the brand’s page.

This week, we learned that the program’s launch was a success. Facebook reported major revenue gains in its third quarter earnings and saw its stock soar.

Mobile advertising will be a key driver of Facebook’s growth moving forward. The company has more mobile users than any other social network – more than 600 million – and studies show that smart phone users are accessing social networks at an increasingly high rate and frequency suggesting that activity could move from desktop to almost exclusively mobile in the near future.

For right now, Facebook’s mobile advertisements focus specifically on converting clicks to app downloads, but we expect to see a more broad focus moving forward. With Facebook’s huge database of personal information – city, state, school, workplace, etc. – its certain that ads will become even more targeted based on location and affinity.

LSA Directories Online Launches Enhanced New Features

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Over the weekend, LSA Directories Online was updated with some exciting new features.

As many of you know, our LSA Directories Online database serves as a single source for accessing print directory tear pages in a standardized format. Currently, with more than 8,000 directories featured, the tear page library is an important tool for our CMR community to review tear pages for competition, positioning and potential new advertising opportunities for their clients. This library also services local sales representatives by providing easy access to their company’s directories.

Our updated features, which were adopted based on user feedback complied in a recent survey, include:

  • Enhanced Display in Heading/Listing Search: When using the alphabet letter search method on the Heading/Listing Search and Saved Headings screens, a drop-down menu of all headings will now appear instead of the numeric range that currently appears when more than 15 headings are returned to the Available Heading box.  Users will now have yet another way to quickly and easily find the heading they are interested in.
  • Addition of ‘Select All’ Feature: The Search Results and Cart screens are also being enhanced with a ‘Select All’ toggle check-box to allow you to select all directories and headings displayed on the page with one toggle instead of manually selecting each directory/heading one at a time when you want to print or download the page.  Note the ‘Select All’ function applies to the page you are currently viewing and will reset to the off position if you move to subsequent pages.
  • Include Cover Feature: In addition to the ‘Select All’ toggle check-box, the Search Results and Cart screens will now include an ‘Include Cover’ (Incl. Cover) toggle check-box.  In the past, to obtain a copy of the directory cover with your print or download request you were required to check the ‘Incl. Cover’ toggle for each heading.  With this enhancement, you can set the Include Cover toggle once, per page, and the directory cover will be delivered with the directory/headings.

We are excited to launch these enhancements to LSA Directories Online and look forward to our members’ continued feedback.

If you have any questions or additional suggestions, feel free to contact my team including Kevin Kalinowski (kevin.kalinowski@localsearchassociation.org) and Ed Halasz (ed.halasz@localsearchassociation.org).

hibu, LSA Attend GreenTown Highland Park Conference

Monday, October 22, 2012

We continued our ongoing work telling the local search industry’s sustainability and consumer choice story as an exhibitor to about 300 local and area representatives at the GreenTown Highland Park conference last Friday in Highland Park, IL.

The event, which we attended at the invitation of Highland Park Councilmembers Paul Frank and David Naftzger, gave us the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a variety of local government officials and representatives of organizations who share our interest in building sustainable, prosperous communities. LSA and our members had previously worked with Councilmembers Frank and Naftzger in February to promote www.YellowPagesOptOut.com, the industry’s national opt-out website for phone book directories.  We again met with Councilmember Naftzger at the event and he personally thanked us for our continued involvement.

This GreenTown event follows hibu & LSA’s similar participation at the Illinois Recycling Association conference in Rockford, IL back in June. Special thanks to hibu and Matt Krug for their participation again at the Greentown event.

LSA's Wesley Young and hibu's Matt Krug at GreenTown Highland Park

Register Today for BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West

Monday, October 22, 2012

It’s not too early to register for BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West, taking place December 4-6 at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The event agenda is jam-packed with exciting speakers from across the spectrum. I’m particularly interested in hearing from:

  • Kris Barton, chief product officer at ReachLocal, who will talk one-on-one with BIA/Kelsey’s Charles Laughlin on Sales Force Transformation
  • Tobias Dengel, CEO at WillowTree Apps, who will participate on a panel discussing mobile’s impact on interactive local media
  • Andrew Shotland, principal at Local SEO Guide and a BIA/Kelsey associate, who will join Paul Wicker, director at Kenshoo Local in reviewing the new landscape in local/social SEO

There are also many, many others I look forward to hearing from. As usual, I’ll be blogging on-site for the duration of the event, so stop by here for the latest.

Register today – I hope to see you there!

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Unanimously Rules: Yellow Pages Directories are Fully Protected Speech

Monday, October 15, 2012

We are extremely pleased the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” under the First Amendment, striking down Seattle’s discriminatory phone book law. Today’s decision will protect all media, including Yellow Pages, from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and cost taxpayer dollars.

The Court’s ruling is good news for residents who find value in the free and easy access to community information, emergency information, and local business listings that print Yellow Pages offer. It is also a win for local businesses that depend on Yellow Pages advertising to drive new customers into their doors.

We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our industry’s national consumer choice program, rather than local government-led initiatives, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. Launched last year, our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com is available at zero cost to taxpayers without the use of government resources.

In light of this decision, we are optimistic the District Court in San Francisco, also in the Ninth Circuit, will quickly overturn that City’s even more restrictive ordinance.

You can read the full Ninth Circuit decision here.

Why It’s Time for Local SMBs To Get On Board With Mobile

Monday, October 15, 2012

In my Local Search column on Search Engine Land this month, I talk about the importance of educating local SMBs about integrating mobile into their marketing strategies.

While attending BIA/Kelsey’s SMB Digital Marketing 2012 Conference in Chicago last month, I was surprised by the results of a recent LCM study, which showed that only 20 percent of local businesses said they have experience with mobile marketing.

As those in our industry know so well, the number of consumers searching for local information on their mobile devices is growing by leaps and bounds. Local businesses need to learn about the basic concepts of local mobile advertising and its potential.

Click here to read my full column on Search Engine Land.

Yellow Pages Group Named Top Canadian Employer

Friday, October 12, 2012

Canada’s Yellow Pages Group was just named one of the top employers in Canada for the seventh consecutive year. ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers’ is an annual list that seeks out the best places to work in the country and recognizing those companies that are leaders in attracting and retaining employees in their respective industries.

Yellow Pages Group was honored for encouraging fitness and health among employees, supporting more sustainable commuting through bike and carpool programs, and providing onsite child care options for parents.

Congratulations to the entire team at YPG for this great honor!

Illinois State Rep. Bill Cunningham and Yellow Pages Publishers Collaborate to Promote www.YellowPagesOptOut.com in Illinois

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Local Search Association and several of our member publishers are partnering with Illinois State Rep. Bill Cunningham to spread awareness among Illinois residents and businesses about the ability to easily control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.

In a press release distributed yesterday throughout Illinois, Rep. Cunningham said, “I’m encouraged that Yellow Pages publishers have developed a practical way for Illinois residents and businesses to limit or stop phone book delivery at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. I look forward to helping Yellow Pages publishers raise visibility for this important resource that provides choice to Illinois constituents.”

Rep. Cunningham is partnering with publishers including Dex One, hibu, The Berry Company and SuperMedia to drive awareness of www.YellowPagesOptOut.com with Illinois elected officials, community organizations and the public.

Over the past year, LSA and our members been partnered with state and local municipalities across the country to address concerns about directory delivery and raise awareness for our successful consumer choice initiative at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. A sampling of our local outreach can be found here.

ICMA Annual Conference: Spreading Word about Consumer Choice

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We had a great time meeting with city and county managers and other officials from across the country and around the world at the ICMA annual conference in Phoenix this week. Our booth here received a great deal of foot traffic and enabled us to reach a large number of officials in a short period of time.

In most cases, the officials who have stopped by our booth said they don’t believe that directory delivery is a problem in their communities. That said, when presented with information about our industry’s consumer choice initiative at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com, many officials expressed satisfaction that the site was easy for residents to use and cost no taxpayer dollars. Several attendees assured us that they plan to add a hyperlink to www.YellowPagesOptOut.com in the “helpful links” sections of their city and county websites.

I think I speak for fellow industry attendees Tim Foster (Dex One) and Matt Krug (hibu) in conveying the success of our time here and the importance of continuing to promote the ability of consumers to control their directory delivery preferences.

(L-R) Tim Foster of Dex One, Matt Krug of hibu and Gene Wilk of LSA

Jill Jordan, assistant city manager, Dallas, TX, with Gene Wilk, LSA