Archive for the ‘Local Search’ Category

More Connected Devices Means More Consumers Searching Online for Local Businesses

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Even in a world where Google’s influence has turned the company into a verb, the number of consumers conducting online local searches is still growing.  According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, “more people are searching for more types of businesses in 2014 versus 2013.”

Source: BrightLocal

As you can see from the chart above, almost all of the business verticals included in the survey grew in the past year.  The most notable exception is restaurants, which saw a nearly 10% decrease in searches. BrightLocal says this is more a reflection of the respondents and isn’t any cause for alarm.

The other verticals that saw a decline from 2013 include Tradesmen and Accountant/Solicitors, however, the decline for each was negligible. On the other hand, the verticals that saw some of the most growth include Hair/Beauty Salons, Gym/Sports Clubs and Realtor/Surveyors.

Overall, the most searched for businesses fell into what BrightLocal called “lifestyle” businesses which refers to restaurants, general shops, clothes shops, hair salons, etc.  These businesses are visited more regularly by more people and therefore harvest more local searches.

This trend of more searches across more verticals aligns with growing adoption and usage of digital technologies.  As smartphones and tablets proliferate – particularly tablets which saw shipments increase 52% in 2013 – the Internet is becoming more accessible and, therefore, so is local search. As you can see in the graph below, the world is getting connected.

Source: KPCB estimates based on Morgan Stanley Research and ITU data.

Given the already impressive penetration of these connected devices, online “findability” is absolutely critical for any business and its importance will continue to grow as device adoption does.  And this isn’t just for the up-and-coming, tech savvy consumers that are 18-24.

An Ofcom report found that the number of people over 65 using tablets jumped from 5% to 17% between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, according to a study we released this year with Thrive Analytics, older generations — including Boomers and Seniors — are embracing mobile as a local shopping companion.

Connected devices are increasing in number around the world, are being used by all age groups and are offering a plethora of ways for consumers to find, connect with and select local businesses.  If nothing is certain except death and taxes, the need for businesses to get online is not far behind.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Acquisio

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This week we hear from Acquisio, a high-powered ad management technology that enables digital and local search marketers to optimize their search campaigns and report on social, mobile and display initiatives, all in one easy-to-use dashboard. With more than 90 Google Channel Partners and 500 agencies using the platform, Acquisio has allowed companies to automatically track, report on and manage a large number of local search accounts and ad campaigns.

We caught up with Marie Lossowski, marketing program manager at Acquisio, to learn more:

What local problems does Acquisio solve? How?
1. We help small businesses maximize their limited budgets.
Budget management is a big problem. A lot of companies struggle with spending a client’s entire budget without going over. With so many small accounts, local search agencies often pause campaigns before the month is over because they are afraid of overspending. That means their clients get less clicks and calls and end up disappointed and churn.

With our automated bid and budget management technology not only do we spend close to 100% of the budget, in local search we typically generate double the clicks. The reason for this is because our system updates every 30 minutes. The technology makes constant changes to ensure the campaign performs well and the budget is spent intelligently throughout the entire month, until the last few minutes of the contract, helping SMBs maximize their ad spend.

2. We save local search agencies time by automating their reporting.
When you’re a local search agency and have a large number of SMB customers you can’t afford to spend time preparing client reports. So we came up with a solution that creates a template for local search agencies to use each month. The reports are compelling and interactive, even allowing customers to listen to the calls that came in. Local businesses get great reports and agencies save time – it’s a win, win.

3. We help prove campaign value and provide actionable data to our local clients.
One way we provide valuable insights is with clear reports and filter tools that help easily identify opportunities to improve campaign performance, and another more localized solution we provide agencies with is call tracking.

Our platform integrates a large number of call tracking services from around the world and these integrations allow our clients to see which local ads and keywords are doing well based on the number of calls generated and the quality of those calls (which can be evaluated through call recordings). Then agencies can use our technology to act on the data collected and improve campaign performance.

What makes Acquisio innovative?
We create technology solutions that solve real world problems without requiring a lot of historical data to make decisions. We provide our clients with solutions that generate results from day one and that is something no one else is doing.

Our real time approach to bid and budget management is also unique – we are the only business in the industry that offers anything like it. And so far the results have been great, with automated campaign adjustments every half hour companies are seeing more campaign clicks and lower CPC.

How does Acquisio make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
We help local agencies automate and optimize their local search efforts, and the agencies help local businesses improve campaign results. That means when we deliver more value, optimize local accounts, and effectively spend ad money better than anyone else in the search industry, everyone in the local space is happy.

What is next in local?
Mobile is a huge issue and it starts with mobile landing pages. Figuring out how to build mobile landing pages for SMBs and driving conversions and calls through mobile is key. It should be high on the priority list for anyone involved in local. Local companies also need to learn how to effectively take advantage of display opportunities, that’s one of the next areas for innovation.

For more info, check out the video below, visit www.acquisio.com or call them toll free at 1-866-493-9070.

Highlights from 2014 Ad to Action Awards Webinar Series

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

During our webinar series last week, we heard from all of our 2014 Ad to Action Award winners on the functionality, benefits, targeting and ROI associated with each of their products or solutions.

The Ad to Action Awards recognized innovations in local advertising and marketing within eight submission categories that demonstrated the greatest potential for driving consumer actions. We received 60 outstanding solutions that were evaluated by a diverse panel of 14 notable experts, analysts, media and practitioners from across the local advertising industry.

Learn more about our winners below:

Mobile: GeoCookie by Thinknear


Social Media: Likes for Lives by Search Influence


Vertical Specific: Weather Triggered Demand Generation by SMG Local Spectrum


Video: TargetView by Sightly


Deals/Loyalty/Ecommerce: MyTime


Implementation: AdMax® Local by The Search Agency


Print: Platform Agnostic Dynamic Location Based Media Planning by SMG Local Spectrum


Business Listings: Local Listing Manager™ by Rio SEO

Digital Marketing Tactics that Drive Customer Retention for SMBs

Monday, July 28, 2014

In my recent article on Street Fight, I talk about the importance of customer retention for SMBs and highlight some of the best digital marketing tactics that help build loyalty and repeat customers.

According to a recent study by Gigaom, email marketing is considered the most effective digital marketing tactic for driving customer retention, followed by social media and content marketing (websites, blogs, etc.).  These tactics should be fundamental pieces of any SMB’s marketing strategy and the best part about these tools is that they are understood methods that require minimal time to manage and are cost-effective.

Check out the full post on Street Fight.

Free Webinar Highlights Ad to Action Award Winners

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don’t miss part two of our free webinar series this Thursday, July 24 at 2pm EDT featuring our Ad to Action Awards winners. Representatives from three winning companies will give attendees deeper looks into the functionality, benefits, targeting and ROI opportunities associated with their product or solution.

  • Print: Platform Agnostic Dynamic Location Based Media Planning by SMG Local Spectrum
  • Mobile: GeoCookie by Thinknear
  • Deals/Loyalty/Ecommerce: MyTime
  • Vertical Specific: Weather Triggered Demand Generation by SMG Local Spectrum

Register for our free webinar here.

The Ad to Action Awards recognized solutions within eight submission categories that demonstrated the greatest potential for driving local business sales and providing memorable experiences to consumers at the end of their purchasing decision track. We received 60 outstanding solutions that were evaluated by a diverse panel of 14 notable experts, analysts, media and practitioners from across the local advertising industry.

Automated Tools To Help Local Businesses Tackle Online Marketing

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In my Local Search column on Search Engine Land this month, I talk about the growing promise of automated local marketing solutions in providing local businesses and marketers with faster, more reliable and more cost-effective service.

Marketers are increasingly turning to automation to help them better achieve a variety of advertising objectives. According to a new survey, 45% of marketers believe that automation is most important to improving marketing productivity, while 44% believe it is key to increasing sales revenue, and 42% think it is vital to increasing lead generation.

To demonstrate the opportunities ahead in local, I discuss three of our Ad to Action Awards winners and the ways that their offerings are lowering barriers for local businesses and marketers to compete online.

  • Rio SEO’s Local Listing Manager solution is automating online business listing management so that local businesses can update their listings throughout the web from a single dashboard
  • The Search Agency’s AdMax Local product is enabling marketers to offer SMBs automated local SEM campaigns at a price point they can afford
  • Sightly’s TargetView offering is enabling local businesses to create, target and distribute video ads so they can compete with big brands.

Read my full column on Search Engine Land.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: MatchCraft

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This week we hear from MatchCraft, a search marketing technology company that supports publishers and local advertising companies around the globe. The company’s AdVantage platform is a fully automated SEM solution that delivers campaign results with little to no human intervention and works to drive ROI for campaigns of any size - including micro-budgets of $100 (or less) per month. MatchCraft has been around since 1998 and operates in 21 countries and 14 languages. 

We caught up with Jill Hammond, vice president of marketing at MatchCraft, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does MatchCraft solve? How?
We all love the thrill of managing large media spends but we find the biggest challenge most SEM technology providers face is how to get great results for low-budget search campaigns. Many of the merchants our clients work with are spending $2000, $500, even $100 per month; with budgets at that level there’s not a lot of room for the publisher to dedicate campaign management resources to tasks like customized campaign setup or ongoing optimization.

At MatchCraft, we’ve created a fully automated solution that delivers excellent campaign results with little to no human intervention. Once the campaigns are up and running, AdVantage adjusts bids hourly, which means more high-quality clicks at lower cost.

What makes MatchCraft innovative?
We’ve been a small, nimble team for more than 15 years. The search marketing landscape has shifted hundreds of times during MatchCraft’s existence, and we’ve shifted with it, building products and platforms that meet the needs of our specific customer base and the merchants they service.

We’re innovative because not only do we provide our customers with reliable, high performance products, we are also committed to ensuring those products are easy to sell.  We empower their sales teams with the training and materials, online and in person, needed to garner greater market share. MatchCraft delivers great results to our clients because everything we do is built around our customers’ needs and wants.

How does MatchCraft make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
Businesses mostly want the same thing from search marketing: more customers. MatchCraft’s technology delivers advertisers not only more potential customers but better qualified potential customers. Because our campaigns are so highly targeted by both location and content, the people who end up clicking on the ads are more likely to be the right people. And higher conversion means higher ROI, happy merchants and better retention rates for our clients.

Consumers also win when search campaigns match the right businesses with the right searches. Whether you’re looking for a plumber or a dentist or a used car, relevant results mean you’re getting the information you want at the exact moment when you’re looking for it. That’s what a good online search experience is all about.

What is next in local?
Two things, and they’re related. The first is clearly mobile. As users continue to shift their searches to their smartphones, we need to focus on helping merchants increase their presence in mobile search results. It’s essential that mobile ads incorporate click-to-call and other immediate contact options so users who are on the go can actually reach the business they’re interested in buying from.

The second thing all the companies in our space are working on is conversion attribution – all the way through to the sale. That’s easy for ecommerce companies, but historically it’s been really hard for local businesses to connect online search advertising with customers who walk in their front door and make purchases. Mobile is the key bridge, and we’re working hard to help our customers connect the dots from search to click to call to conversion.

For more info, check out the video below, contact Jill directly at jill@matchcraft.com or visit www.matchcraft.com

MathCraft’s AdVantage SEM Platform from MatchCraft on Vimeo.

YP’s Mobile Properties Attract Users with Spending Power

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

With more than 10 million downloads of its mobile app and approximately 30 million monthly unique visits across its app and mobile websites, YP.com offers advertisers a great way to reach consumers searching for local business information via their mobile devices.

Not only does YP.com attract a strong cross-section of users, but those users trend younger and carry some serious spending power.  The typical YP.com mobile user is between 25-44 years old and makes more than $75,000 annually, according to the latest comScore MobiLens data, although the site has users across all age and income groups.

Source: comScore MobiLens May 2014

Source: comScore MobiLens May 2014

Last year, YP reported $378 million in mobile ad revenue and noted that half of its audience came from mobile devices. Recently, YP CEO David Krantz was quoted as saying, “we were mobile before mobile was cool” – a claim that seems to be validated by the company’s strong mobile performance indicators.

YP is continuing to attract mobile users and driving mobile ad revenue with new mobile offerings, such as its recently released offering, My Book. An alternative to reviews and tips, this new tool allows both mobile and desktop users to create and manage lists of their favorite businesses. With this data, YP is able to provide users with recommendations based on the number of “favorites” each business has.

Krantz has been very public in his comments regarding the importance of YP’s mobile strategy – and rightfully so. Mobile local searches are driving consumer actions and continue to transform the way consumers interact with local business information. In addition, since YP’s mobile properties are attracting users with spending power, they are poised to remain a major local player that offers strong results for advertisers.

Google Turns Local Product Searches into Delivery Business

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To date, Google product searches have delivered fairly relevant local results, but have failed to translate those results into actual purchases.  Now, Google is introducing a new platform to that helps consumers move from product searches to real-life transactions.

The offering, called Google Shopping Express, allows consumers to buy products from several major participating retailers through Google’s interface. In turn, Google will take a single-digit percentage cut of each transaction and then deliver the purchased product from the physical retail store to the consumer on the same or next day. Instead of operating massive warehouses and store inventory – along the lines of Amazon – Google simply acts as a facilitator of local product transactions.

Currently, the service offers products from the likes of Target, Costco, Toys “R” Us and Whole Foods, and is operational in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. A source told Re/code that Google execs have set aside around $500 million to expand the service nationwide. According to Tom Fallows, head of Google Shopping Express, the company is “willing to sustain that investment over time as this gets going.”

While there is the obvious benefit of using Google to help sell local products, it will be interesting to see how they incorporate small retailers in the mix.  At this point, the service looks well suited for retailers that offer specialty, one-of-a-kind goods that aren’t available anywhere else. On the other hand, the local drug store with common brand name products might struggle to compete with the pricing flexibility of national chains like Walgreens.

Once again, it looks like small local retailers face an uphill battle when it comes to competing with the influence of national retailers.  If Google plans to continue this partnership model for Google Shopping Express, we can only assume that the national brands will have priority over small local retailers that offer the same products with less reach.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this new Google offering resonates in the market and what impact it has on local product sales.

Think Tank Chicago: Exploring Local Advertising on a Dark and Stormy Night

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ryan Vaspra, SVP of product and operations at Sightly, shares his thoughts on our recent Think Tank Chicago event which brought together local advertising leaders from companies including Facebook, YP, R/GA, Twitter, MediaVest, Ifbyphone, Marquette Group, Cars.com, Where 2 Get It, CityGrid Media and SMG Local Spectrum. The group discussed exciting new ideas and trends in local that have the potential to take our industry to the next level.

As lightning flashed and thunder crashed outside the 80th floor windows of the Aon Building in downtown Chicago, a group of local marketing thought leaders convened for dinner and spirited discussion – an industry “Think Tank,” graciously hosted by the Local Search Association.

The group was comprised of a diverse set of executives from agencies, publishers, media, and technology companies like Sightly, the online video ad tech company I represent.

The theme of the evening was an exploration of “how local advertisers are using various media outlets to drive clicks, calls and store visits,” what the LSA introduced this year as “Last Mile Advertising.”

From the offset, the discussion focused on what local advertisers want from marketing and advertising solutions and what providers’ pricing should be.

Many participants didn’t feel our industry necessarily needs to provide “free or nearly free” solutions for SMBs as incentives for them to try our products, especially if the value is evident. Simple? Yes.  Effective? Yes.  But simple and effective solutions are rarely free or inexpensive.

Some agency executives felt it’s our job to provide fairly priced, effective solutions but not worry about saving all SMBs from their competitors. In local business, those who are smart, savvy and willing to learn are usually the ones that survive. Conversely, to paraphrase one exec, “Those who don’t get it, usually don’t get that they don’t get it.”

Finally, our best takeaway was that the group felt agencies and service providers provide value by bundling and integrating marketing solutions. Otherwise, SMBs tend to “hopscotch” from tactic to tactic, treating each marketing solution as a stand-alone solution. In reality, bundled solutions create a much more valuable multi-touch, integrated marketing presence for the SMB in its local market than any individual tactic does at any given time.

It was a one-of-a-kind event and LSA brought together a very impressive and influential group of professionals from a diverse set of locally focused companies. The intimate setting made it easy for us to dive deep into the issues impacting the local space.  With such varied experiences and perspectives in one room, we came away from the meeting with insights that are extremely valuable for the future of local.