Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Bing Study: Online Search Trends Vary By Device During Different Times of Day

Monday, June 30, 2014

Building rapport and gaining visibility within a community can be difficult for SMBs if they are not targeting through the right media at the right time. To ensure a successful message, it is important for SMBs to first understand who to target, and then also when to target them.

Bing recently released a study that tracked the time periods that consumers are most commonly browsing the Internet. According to the study, weekdays and weekends have distinct search patterns.

On weekdays, consumers are more likely to use a PC until 6 p.m., before switching to either a mobile phone or tablet through approximately 10 p.m. Given the typical workday times, this finding makes sense.

Source: Bing

On weekends, however, when the average consumer is not at their place of work, he or she uses the Internet more frequently, and the separation between the devices is much less substantial. On Saturday-Sunday, searches via desktops are consistently high from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. across PCs, mobile phones and tablets.

Source: Bing

Based on study findings, if an SMB’s weekday media campaign is chomping through PC budget in the early morning or mobile budget in the early afternoon, it is likely missing the prime times to reach consumers on those platforms. Aligning campaigns with the most popular search times on particular devices can lead to significantly greater visibility..

Whichever combination of platforms consumers use to access the Internet, reaching them is all a matter of timing. For a message to succeed, SMBs should gauge when their consumers are typically using each device. This can be a crucial factor in determining whether a campaign will be successful.

Top 10 Tips for Local Search Success

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Business owners today see all the different ways that consumers are seeking out, discovering and considering local businesses, and they don’t know where to start their marketing efforts.

In our column for Search Engine Land this month, I offer my 10 tips for best positioning local businesses in today’s ever-changing local search environment. These include:

1)     Ensure key information about your business is accurate & accessible

2)     Populate your top local business listings

3)     Build a website with the user experience as the key priority

4)     Optimize your website for search

5)     Start a blog to provide a steady stream of content

6)     Leverage visual content, including photos and videos

7)     Ensure your business website is mobile-friendly

8)     Engage on social media channels used by your target customers

9)     Encourage reviews to add credibility to your business

10)  Pay attention to your success – and adjust your approach as necessary

Click here to read my full column on how to integrate each of these tips into your local business strategy.

Maximizing R.O.I. in Local Media Today

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Please join LSA, YP and Market Authority for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, May 8 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

Local advertising is more fragmented than ever and is evolving rapidly. Due to all of this disruptive change, SMBs and national advertisers need help navigating today’s complex media landscape. During this webinar, YP and Market Authority will share unique insights into what is working today in hyper-local media, including a focus on how local search via print and internet yellow pages is delivering strong R.O.I for key categories, geographies and demographic target audiences.

YP is one on the largest local media and advertising companies in the U.S. including Mobile, Online, Display, and Print solutions. Market Authority is a leading provider of research into consumer media usage and advanced sales technique training.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

LSA|14: Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Shares Passion for Innovation & Opportunity

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Steve Wozniak covered a wide range of topics including his childhood and early career motivations, initial successes at Apple, his relationship with Steve Jobs, thoughts on Apple’s business today, predictions for consumer technology, and more in his highly anticipated featured appearance at our 2014 annual conference.. LSA President Neg Norton moderated the session.

The Silicon Valley icon and Apple co-founder described his childhood as one consumed by a drive for exploring innovation and discovery in electronics, math and science. He credited his father, an electrical engineer, for providing him with an education  – “the equivalent of graduate classes” – that drove his interest and knowledge. He talked about building science fair projects, machines and even computers in his early years that set the framework for his later success.

In college, Wozniak said he first realized the opportunity to use the television as an output device that would allow people to see what they were doing on a computer.  Wozniak’s innovations often involved taking larger computer units and reducing the cost and number of chips needed for it to function resulting in an affordable unit suitable for personal use.   It was also during that time period that Wozniak first met Steve Jobs, who quickly became an advocate and partner for selling Wozniak’s inventions. “Every time I’d create something – Steve [Jobs] would say, let’s sell it,” he said.

Wozniak quit college and began working at HP, where he pitched his personal computer ideas five times, without success. It was by starting Apple with Jobs and launching Apple II – the first low-cost, color screen personal computer ever – that Wozniak first saw the potential for his ideas to fuel the creation of a “real company – possibly a big company,” as well as make a global impact.

Wozniak also discussed Jobs’ ambition from the offset for playing a leadership role at Apple. He also spoke openly about the failures of later Apple products such as the Apple III and Apple Lisa, and what could have been done differently that would have helped them to do better.

In discussing Apple today, Wozniak said that he did not think a lot had changed since Jobs’ passing. However, he mentioned being encouraged by recent signs at Apple that it is opening up its ecosystem, referencing plans to introduce iTunes on Android.

Wozniak said that wearable technology such as Google Glass and smart watches represent key trends in the electronics industry. He felt there was a risk that smart watches might go the way of Bluetooth headsets because they simply duplicate a smaller set of functions that are on the phone.  On the other hand, he shared an idea on how flexible display may be incorporated into wearable devices that solve the small screen problem of smart watches.  He also spoke about opportunities in voice, such as Siri. He talked passionately about the possibilities of building software that provides a more human experience and better anticipates human’s real intentions. “Your smartphone is becoming like a friend – your most trusted advisor in the world,” he said.

Wozniak also said that the best innovations come from people who build the technologies for themselves. “I designed Apple II because it was what I wanted for myself,” he said. “The Telsa, Elon Musk designed the car for himself.” In looking at young talent, he told attendees to search for “the person who is a builder – who has built successful solutions in the past.”

Wozniak also spoke about his strong interest in childhood education and encouraging and supporting young people in finding their place in society. He said that to date, the computer has not achieved its promise of revolutionizing education. He said he dreamed of the time when computers can serve as a “student’s best friend … to have feelings for students, to know everything about them. So kids can choose their direction in life much earlier. “

Overall, Wozniak demonstrated a love for technology, a passion for helping others, and a genuine and humble personality that was so enjoyable and refreshing to witness from someone of his stature.

LSA|14: Emerging Start-Up Tech in Local Media

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Google Head of Business Development, Channel Sales, North America Jon Sofield led an afternoon panel about emerging start-up technology in local media.  Members of the panel included William Hsu, Mucker Capital; Farbod Shoraka, BloomNation; Amit Jain, Bridg; and Jim Johnson, ServiceTitan.

The panel discussed how big data is impacting the local space.  Hsu said that the investment in big data started about three or four years ago, indicating that the market is probably about halfway through its investment period.  He said that as investment slows down, companies will look more at how they can put that data to action.

Jain agreed that putting the data into action is what brings value to a business.

“It’s real time, a lot of data.  You’re tracking every single activity every single minute.  You’re tracking that data and trying to figure out behavior changes.  So it’s becoming a way to learn in real-time and react on a real-time basis.”

“The reality today is you can process a lot of data in real time and really take actions on it … That’s what creates value.  Technology allows you to process lots and lots of data, and that wasn’t possible yesterday.  What real-time big data is doing already to our lives is making the consumer experience so much different than it used to be.”

So how do startup local search providers help in this complex environment?  Shoraka says it’s all about transparency.

“We came in strongly that we’re fully transparent in what we’re going to do.  Sharing consumer information … it immediately created that form of trust.”

Before closing the panel, Sofield asked which companies will lead in local technology in the future:

  • Hsu: Google
  • Farbod: Amazon
  • Jain: Square, Paypal, Apple
  • Johnson: Google

LSA|14: comScore’s Gian Fulgoni Highlights Drastic Changes in Ways Consumers Shop and Buy

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gian Fulgoni, executive chairman and co-founder, comScore, kicked off the final day of our 2014 LSA annual conference with a data-filled presentation on the fast-changing consumer path to purchase and its implications for local marketers. Throughout his presentation, Gian highlighted data sourced from comScore’s global panel of two million Internet users around the world.

Gian began his remarks by highlighting the emergence of the “digital omnivore” in the U.S. marketplace. He said that there are 156 million smartphones and 82 million tablets in the U.S., growing at 24% and 57% year-over-year. He also noted that while Millennials have a substantially higher rate of smartphone penetration than their older counterparts, that reality will likely change in the near future.

Gian said that Americans today spend more time on mobile platforms than on desktop. He noted that leading retail properties are now seeing one-third of their monthly audiences coming exclusively from mobile platforms. He said these developments mean that retailers and marketers must have a mobile strategy.

That said, Gian also noted that retailers and marketers should not forget legacy media or the desktop for categories where they still play an important role. For example, desktop still attracts a strong share in the online couponing business, even though mobile is changing the game in other categories such as weather and maps.

Gian then discussed the growing importance of mobile search and advertising, which grew to a $7.1 billion business in 2013. He said that consumers today are accessing a broader variety of local content via mobile, noting that apps use is growing faster than browser. He described how valuable mobile searches are to retailers and marketers: almost 80% of mobile searches end in a purchase, with nearly 75% of purchases occurring in-store. That’s why spending on mobile advertising today is surging – now equaling that of banner ads. Gian mentioned that social networks including Facebook and Twitter are benefiting from this shift towards mobile, since their newsfeeds are well suited for mobile ads.

Lastly, Gian highlighted how successful multi-platform marketing can mean the difference between realizing valuable opportunities versus suffering damaging consequences. He described a changing consumer path-to-purchase that is no longer funnel-based, but rather “a flight map” that has consumers jumping from friends and family, TV, online, brick and mortar stores and print media before moving forward with a purchase. He stressed that while mobile use in the shopping experience is growing fast, traditional media like newspapers, TV and magazines are still rated highly by consumers.

Gian said that mobile devices have helped to accelerate the movement of pricing power to the consumer, and that they have an impact on both offline and online buying decisions. He mentioned that more than 1 in 3 online consumers said they have showroomed, with the top reason being to find a better price online. Gian also noted that while somewhat limited, m-Commerce is growing rapidly (reached $25 billion in Q4 2013, +22% year-over-year), but he also said its importance varies substantially across product categories.

The key takeaway from Gian’s session was clear: there are drastic changes taking place in the way that people shop and buy today. Retailers and marketers continue to adopt and change quickly. But in doing so, they must take careful note of what types of media – traditional, online, mobile, and/or tablet – are most effective in reaching consumers in their category.

Defining Local: Last Mile Advertising

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After interviewing executives from a range of advertising agencies, platforms and experts including R/GA, Sears, Twitter, Microsoft, YP, Groupon, Mashable and the IAB , we found that there is still a lot of confusion around what “local” actually means.  Overall, the feeling is that the local space isn’t clearly distinguishable from advertising as a whole, but there is a strong conviction that it could and should be.

This is where we believe “Last Mile” can bring some clarity.  In my blog post on Street Fight, I define the Last Mile Advertising space and explain the three pillars that make up this space: Seek, Discover and Consider.

Check out my full article at Street Fight.

Groupon’s Deal Builder Helps SMBs Help Themselves to Daily Deals

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A few weeks ago, Groupon launched Deal Builder which is a new self-serve tool that allows business owners to create deals and offers that become a part of Groupon’s daily offering. Groupon is hoping the tool will help broaden the types of businesses using the platform, such as those not located in major urban areas outside of Groupon’s normal sales reach.

Offers that are created through Deal Builder tend to have a lower audience, as they aren’t sent out in one of Groupon’s main e-mail blasts or notifications.  While at first blush that might seem like a drawback for Deal Builder, local merchants in the past have been unprepared for the high volume of traffic that Groupon e-mails can create.

Deal Builder may also help SMBs improve their ability to connect with consumers on mobile devices.  Mobile Commerce Daily recently highlighted an SMB’s offer on Deal Builder that resulted in half of the redemptions coming from mobile devices.

Despite Social Media Examiner’s study released last year that found 80% of marketers don’t plan on using a daily deal site, Deal Builder opens the door for more SMBs to experiment with daily deals at their own pace.  The self-serve model takes away the hand-holding that was needed to create deals, takes away any sales pressure, and offers customized solutions selected by the SMB itself.

For Groupon, the tool improves its ability to house more deals and generate more locally focused content.  Similar to all the recent news related to Yahoo’s local search capabilities, Deal Builder further solidifies Groupon’s standing as a legitimate local marketing solution for SMBs.

“With the launch of Deal Builder, we now have a customizable solution for the thousands of merchants that contact us directly every month wanting to run a deal,” said Dan Roarty, vice president of product development at Groupon.

Since SMBs can’t compete with the marketing budgets of national brands, it helps to have solutions like Deal Builder that get them in the mobile ad and search space without devoting a lot of resources.  In addition, by having more control over the direction of deals, SMBs can use their local knowledge to develop customized and relevant offers.  It will be interesting to see if Deal Builder does help Groupon break into and catch on with businesses in smaller markets.

Ad Age: Shifting Focus from Mobile to Mobility

Friday, February 7, 2014

I came across this op-ed in Ad Age the other day and thought it highlighted an interesting point regarding the need for our industry to stop talking about mobile as a “new” piece of the local ad equation.  Water Cooler Group president, Anthony Young, accurately highlights that this year, smart phone penetration in the United States will hit 80% and tablets will overtake sales of PCs.  Mobile hasn’t just arrived, it is well-established and booming.

Young writes that we need to take our marketing efforts from simply using mobile as a venue to push ads to integrating “mobility” solutions into all aspects of marketing. Pushing an ad on a mobile device is far different than creating a relevant experience to a consumer whose time is valuable.  Consumers continue to be on-the-go and expect to be connected at all times, so as marketers, we should create useful and meaningful experiences that allow them to connect to brands easily and quickly.

Check out the full article on Ad Age.

LSA, hibu at Massachusetts Municipal Association and Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns Conferences

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Promoting our industry among policymakers in 2014 started with two conferences in New England in January.  With participation by hibü at both, we had an exhibit booth at the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) conference in Boston, MA.  A week later, we were at the Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns’ in Warwick, RI.  When we share details of, our environmental record, and how we boost local economies, we make important gains with local lawmakers whom otherwise may support bills restricting our industry.  In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island – both states where our industry has faced legislative hurdles – we were pleased to be greeted warmly and feel that we made a good impact with local leaders.

LSA Public Policy Manager Gene Wilk and hibü Environmental Relations Manager Matt Krug at the Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns conference.