LSA Member Innovation in Local: Search Influence

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This week we hear from Search Influence, a national, full-service, online marketing company based in New Orleans. Search Influence serves local and small / medium size businesses with SEO, Online Advertising, Social Media and Social Ads, both directly and as a white-label provider for media companies and resellers.

We caught up with Will Scott, CEO and co-founder of Search Influence, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does Search Influence solve? How?
On some level, we’re like the Yellow Pages of old. We make “phones ring and doors swing” (and email go ding). Regardless of the medium, our job as local marketers and media companies is to connect buyers and sellers.

For our partners in the media, we give them products their advertisers want without the cost of building their own team.

What makes Search Influence innovative?
We devote significant R&D and software development to the challenge of scaling content-based SEO and Social Media. Before most of the industry was talking about “content marketing” we were driving buying traffic by producing hundreds of thousands of pages of copy for online distribution.

Our philosophy is that software should end where human intelligence is needed. At search influence we develop scalable systems powered by experts.

How does Search Influence make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
It’s hard to be a local advertiser today. Between keeping your doors open, your employees happy and your online presence humming there’s barely enough time to sleep and eat.

In a recent BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Monitor, the data showed some local advertisers are active in 7 or more online channels. That could be a full-time job.

We help those advertisers tell their story. On their website, in social media, throughout the local search ecosystem, we provide buyers with the information to confidently select a provider.

What is next in local?
Content is going farther and having more impact on media company revenues. As native advertising has evolved this year from a buzzword to a tangible revenue stream for our partners, we are working with media companies to develop quality native advertising content at scale. We handle everything from telling the advertiser story in text, image and video to finding channels for distribution online and extending their reach in social media.

For more info, check out the presentation below, or you can contact Search Influence at (504) 208-3900 or email them at Info@searchinfluence.com.

About Search Influence & the Importance of Content Marketing for Local Bussinesses from Local Search Association

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Matt Baldwin, Senior Research Analyst, Borrell Associates

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Now that we are about a month away from Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money!, we are spotlighting some of the great speakers we have lined up for the event. First up we have Matt Baldwin, senior research analyst with Borrell Associates, where he works directly with ad agencies, media companies and business organizations nationwide to develop the deeper target audience insights that drive more effective media applications and creative direction.

Matt Baldwin, Senior Research Analyst, Borrell Associates

Matt has been recognized as Advertising Age magazine Marketer of the Year and has also served as President for NAA’s Research Federation Board of Directors. His techniques and approaches to media and advertising have won over $100 million in new business.

We asked Matt a few questions about his session, and here is what he had to say:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
Quantifying market potential, understanding subcategory media share, identifying market-specific healthcare opportunity segments and fitting social and mobile into the right spots.

What about your session are you most excited about?
Sharing the approaches that drive results.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
Healthcare is such a hot overall category, but some subcategories represent more opportunity than others.  When clients and prospects see YOU in the know about THEIR business, you are automatically positioned as a more complete and engaged marketing partner.

What is the most fascinating part of your job?
Uncovering new insights, then seeing clients use that knowledge to be more successful.

Click here to learn more about the SoMoConf event or register now!

Google Turns Local Product Searches into Delivery Business

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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.

Upcoming Webinars to Highlight Ad to Action Award Winners

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We are excited to announce that next week we will be holding two webinars featuring all of our Ad to Action Award winners.  Representatives from each winning company will give attendees deeper looks into the functionality, benefits, targeting and ROI benefits associated with their product or solution.

Join us to learn more about these innovative offerings:

Part 1: Tuesday, July 22 at 2pm EDT

  • Business Listings: Local Listing Manager™ by Rio SEO
  • Implementation: AdMax® Local by The Search Agency
  • Video: TargetView by Sightly
  • Social Media: Likes for Lives by Search Influence

Part 2: Thursday, July 24 at 2pm EDT

  • 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

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.

We hope you’ll join us!

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

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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.

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Indoor Location

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Indoor location marketing is a promising way to reach consumers when they are extremely close to the point of purchase. While there are some privacy concerns to consider, indoor location is already winning over major retailers and brands as a new way to connect with relevant, on-the-go consumers.

As an intro to how it all works, check out Greg Sterling’s webinar from last year that provides an overview of the indoor location marketing ecosystem, various technologies in use, indoor analytics and the way in which online-to-offline tracking is revolutionizing ROI.  Sterling is also holding the 2014 Place Conference in less than two weeks that will dive deeper into the indoor location opportunity.

Here are some stats that give a glimpse into this emerging space:

  • Indoor location and place-based marketing will surpass $10 billion by 2018. (Opus Research)
  • Beacons in retail stores resulted in a 19x increase in interactions with advertised products, and a 6.4x increase in the likelihood that a shopper kept an app that sent them a beacon message on their phones. (InMarket)
  • Public WiFi is the basic location infrastructure needed for indoor location marketing, and the number of WiFi locations nationally increased 293% from 2009-2013. (NinthDecimal)
  • 72% of smartphone owners used devices while shopping in stores during the 2012 holiday season. (Pew)
  • Indoor maps and services to reach more than $2.5 billion by 2017. (ABI Research)

Be sure to check back next Friday for our next edition of Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week. Have a great weekend!

About $450M of Digital Co-Op Ad Dollars Are Left Unused

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During this week’s webinar, Marianna Tishchenko, business development at PaperG, walked through digital co-op advertising for publishers and agencies and shared some recent industry trends.  She shared some data to show why digital co-op presents a huge opportunity for local advertisers and discussed what’s keeping all the offline co-op spending from going digital.

In addition to getting a sneak peak into PaperG’s solutions that help facilitate digital co-op advertising, here are some other takeaways from the webinar:

  • Online co-op marketing is worth $1.7 billion today with $450 million left unused due to lack of participation. (Borrell Associates)
  • There are 4500+ co-op programs available in the U.S. for digital, print, radio, mobile, SEM, billboards and many other forms of advertising.
  • The obvious benefit of co-op advertising is that it gives local dealers “free money” from manufacturers which makes advertising more cost-effective.
  • With U.S. digital ad spend expected to grow to $61.35 billion by 2017, co-op will grow with it.

Check out the entire presentation below:

For access to all of our past webinars and a look at what’s to come, visit http://bit.ly/LSAwebinars.

The Local Listing Management Hat-trick: Optimized Data, Listing Syndication and Roll-Up Reporting

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As part of winning in the Business Listings category of the Ad to Action Awards, Rio SEO‘s Bill Connard, VP of local search solutions, will provide monthly insight into the world of search engine optimization (SEO).

Last month, I praised major data aggregators for their contributions to the accelerated evolution of local search. Capitalizing on their overall benefits requires a three-prong approach.

One of those prongs, roll-up reporting, is often the missing link for top brands trying to better understand how their optimized, syndicated local data is performing in organic search across the key search engines, niche directories, mobile apps, in-car GPS devices, and review sites.  Reporting is the last of three key components that make up the local listing management hat-trick:

    1. Cleansing and optimization of brand data.
    2. Syndication and distribution of that optimized data to the entire local search ecosystem.
    3. Roll-up reporting of data correctness and changes to listings.

Despite the tedious analysis of massive amounts of granular data, most marketers are still without proper insight into what is or is not working with local SEO.  Automated reporting and adherence to best practices addresses these issues, especially when managing hundreds or even thousands of locations.

Cleansing Inaccurate Business Listings Address Poor User Experiences and Dissatisfaction

Ensuring local business information accuracy is a must, as incorrect information can prevent consumers doing a search, from finding your business or worse, going to a competitor.

Regularly reporting your presence across major search engines and the local search ecosystem ensures accuracy and delivering on user expectations. Features like citation tracking and monitoring provide brand insight into what is being displayed and where. Any inaccuracies can then be tackled individually or in bulk.

Syndication/Distribution of Optimized Data = Control and Valuable Backlinks

Once companies have cleansed their local data of incorrect business listing information, they’re ready to syndicate their location information to:

  • Google+ Local;
  • Yahoo Local;
  • Bing Maps; and
  • Top data aggregators (Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual).

Syndicating or submitting clean, consistent local business information to the top aggregators is key to driving measurable ROI around targeted products and services in hyper-local markets. Data aggregators give brands ultimate control over their listings and add search engine validation, while building more backlinks and completeness of profiles and ultimately increasing search rankings. Marketers who automate this process are best positioned to drive brand campaigns and strategies through their local listings.

To get a quick start, read this local SEO guide to listing syndication.

Roll-Up Reporting Means Powerful Search Ranking Intelligence

In any online campaign, marketers need effective tools to track, measure and report on all activity and results. Top brands are quickly adopting local reporting solutions to gain a 30,000-foot view and track local successes across the major search engines, data aggregators, and niche directories by location.

The following items should be tracked to measure local SEO success and ROI:

  • Ranking on search engines
  • Local search rankings
  • Citation consistency across the ecosystem
  • Traffic from all engines, directories, and niche sites
  • Link activity analytics, driving directories, coupons, click-to-call, etc.
  • Number of reviews per location on Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.
  • Average review ratings on Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.

Both organic and local search rankings should be tracked to give marketers a complete view of their search performance down to specific locations and the ability to monitor search rankings for targeted keywords as well as competitors – over time. Knowledge is power; having this level of intelligence and hyper-local insight at your disposal makes each and every business and marketing decision that much more informed. For more insight on local search reporting, join our live webinar Tuesday, July 15, or after that date go to www.rioseo.com to view a recording.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Google

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This week we caught up with Oliver Vidinovski, strategic partner manager of premier partnerships channel sales North America at Google, to learn more about Google’s SMB Channel Sales Partner Program: 

What local problem(s) does Google solve? How?
Local business is a big part of the Google Channel Sales team. With 63% of SMBs in the market not having a website, it’s critical to assist local businesses in becoming digitally engaged. We do this through our partner network, lovingly known as the Google SMB Channel Sales Partner Program.

“The Channel Sales Partner program represents a strategic alliance between Google and a number of hand-picked top-tier companies & organisations who market, sell, and service Google’s digital advertising products to SMBs, enabling them to diversify and expand their revenue base.”

What makes Google innovative?
Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. We provide solutions to our advertisers across mobile, search, video and display to help them with their advertising goals and help them get found across Google’s properties.

How does Google make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
Through Google’s Partner Program, local businesses have access to our partners who are trusted digital media advisors that help these businesses become digitally engaged.

What is next in local?
Google is a mobile first company. The next wave of exposure is across mobile and multiple devices. Being present in the NOW (or what we call the “Zero Moment of Truth”) is paramount to the success of local business and their advertising. Here are a few infographics that highlight this changing landscape:

To learn more check out Google’s Mobile Playbook and for more info on Google’s SMB Channel Sales Partner Program, you can contact Oliver at ovidinovski@google.com.

SoMoConf to Provide Local Media with Latest on Social and Mobile Opportunities

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As digital advertising spend continues to chip away at traditional media spend, many local media organizations are looking for new sources of revenue and ways to serve their clients. Social and mobile solutions provide these organizations with a variety of new opportunities to expand their product line and help SMBs attract new customers.

We are excited to partner with Borrell Associates and the Local Media Association for the upcoming “Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money!” conference, taking place August 20th-21st in Chicago.

At this year’s event, we’ll hear from the heaviest hitters in social and mobile, digital agencies and clients on the best ways to make money from these platforms.  The event also promises superb networking by bringing together professionals from three leading local media organizations, along with a variety of receptions and other ways to get to know one another.

Notable speakers will include:

  • Ted Zagat, Ads, Facebook
  • Lutz Finger, Director Data Science & Data Engineering, LinkedIn
  • Joel Meek, Head of Partner Online Sales & Operations, Pinterest
  • PJ MacGregor, Brand Development Lead, Instagram
  • Greg Stuart, Global CEO, Mobile Marketing Association
  • Luke Edson, VP of National Markets, YP
  • And many more…

So if you work for a local media organization and you want to learn what your colleagues are doing to grow digital revenues, SoMoConf is for you. You’re bound to make some new connections and leave with fresh ideas on how to drive sales.  Click here to learn more.