Answers to FAQs about LSA|14 in Huntington Beach

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When it comes to local advertising and marketing we are still hearing a lot of confusion around what “local” actually means. Is it simply reaching audiences based on location or is it more than that? Well, we have some thoughts on the topic and will be revealing our perspective and the research that backs it up at the 2014 Local Search Association Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif., April 27-29.

But before that, here are answers to some FAQs about LSA|14 that are just teasers to the rich agenda we have planned:

What is the focus of the event?
Simply put, innovation and local. We plan on kicking off the conference by defining “local” and showing you what it looks like today. From there, each session will hit on established practices and innovative ways to drive local consumer actions and ROI. In addition, our Ad to Action Awards will highlight some of the most innovative local ad solutions across eight different categories.

Any big names speaking?
Is Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak big enough for you? But the list of great speakers doesn’t begin and end there. We have about 50 influential speakers booked for LSA|14 from companies like Google, comScore, YP, Bing, xAd, JiWire, Retale, Wanderful Media and many more.

Where is the event?
The Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach, Calif.  Bike along the coast, hit the links, learn to surf or just watch the sun set over the Pacific. It’s a beautiful place with plenty to do.

What kind of networking opportunities are there?
The entire LSA|14 event is extremely conducive to making new connections and catching up with old ones. With five networking events, the Expo Hall and lots of networking breaks during the day, you’ll get plenty of chances to meet decision makers within the local ad space.

Are there any speaking opportunities?
While our agenda is almost complete, we are offering sponsored speaking opportunities that we are calling, “Company Spotlights.” This is a great opportunity for those of you looking to introduce or remind the local space of your organization or new solution. You’ll get five minutes of the crowd’s undivided attention on the main stage which is plenty of time to make a splash!

Click here for more information on the LSA|14 conference.

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Yelp Encourages High-Quality Reviews and Rewards Best Contributors

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In a recent interview with Fast Company, Eric Singley, Yelp’s consumer and mobile products vice president, shares how his company works hard to drive better quality reviews by rewarding the content they find most useful.

Singley describes how Yelp features a “Review of the Day” on its homepage (see below) and features stamps on user profiles for those who create the best content.

According to Singley, Yelp doesn’t provide a recommended word count or define the number of reviews needed to become an “elite” Yelper.  Instead, the site avoids being prescriptive by giving examples that show what a strong review looks like on both the web and mobile.

When mobile reviews were launched on Yelp, only elite users were given access, which helped the online reviews site to build a foundation of high-quality reviews.  To maintain this quality, Yelp now prompts mobile reviewers with a sample review of “good” quality just before the user is allowed to type their review. In addition, if a user writes a review that is very brief, Yelp nudges the user to add more detail with a line that pops up at the bottom saying, “This review is shorter than most.”

Yelp also finds that users “put their best foot forward” when their real identity is associated with their content.  Many businesses have questioned the integrity of reviews on Yelp, but Singley claims, “you’ll never see content on Yelp without a name and a photo next to it.”

While Yelp is working to improve the quality of their reviews, local businesses need to start developing online review strategies given the overwhelming majority of customers that say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. Check out my recent column on Search Engine Land where I shared six tips for jumpstarting a local business’ online review presence.

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Click-to-Call Programs Drive Value for Local Marketers

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While the local advertising landscape is changing in new and significant ways, one thing that remains constant is the importance of customer phone calls to small businesses.

Last week, Telmetrics, the call measurement company, announced that it experienced more than 160% growth in 2013 in the number of digital local search call programs it monitored.  According to the company, marketers, advertising providers and ad networks increased the use of calls as a performance metric across mobile, desktop and vertical directory search ads.

Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics, said, “The number of marketers adopting calls as a cross-media ad performance metric is growing significantly because digital marketers recognize the value of using call analytics as key engagement and conversion indicators.”

The growth seen at Telmetrics seems to be a simple case of supply meeting demand.  While there are now so many different ways that consumers can discover or find local businesses, phone calls remain the most desired result of those marketing campaigns.

A new study by BIA/Kelsey found that approximately 2 in 3 SMB respondents (66%) said they considered calls to be an excellent or good lead source – more than any other source. Online forms and in-person interaction were a close second and third, respectively.

As the local search and advertising space continues to fragment, we expect the solutions that drive consumer actions—specifically calls—will capture an increasing amount of ad dollars.  Even though the way we advertise locally continues change, the objective for local businesses remains focused on driving consumer action and interaction with them. Calls, store visits, appointments, reservations and clicks are all strong leads to making a sale.

The importance of these consumer actions is why we started our Ad to Action competition this year.  The competition is now officially closed to further entries and the judging is underway.  We are excited to explore all of the the marketing tools that are driving consumer action and will announce the winners at our LSA|14 conference.

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Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Location

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This week we focus on the foundation for all local searches: location.  From a consumer’s willingness to share his or her current location with companies to searching on a map, location is the foundation of what makes a search local.

Studies show location-based searches make up a significant piece of the entire search pie.  Based on data from a May 2013 comScore study, about 2.7 billion Google search queries in the US carried a local intent.

Here are some compelling stats that show how location impacts the local advertising space:

  • 20% of searches on Google are related to location. (Google)
  • 74% of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older say they use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location. (Pew)
  • Google Maps is the dominant app used for local-mobile search. (comScore, Neustar/Localeze and 15 Miles)
  • 61% of consumers permit mobile apps to access their “current location” at least some of the time. (YP)
  • 47% of consumers said they are willing to share location to receive relevant offers or discount coupons. (mBlox/Millward Brown)

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

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Apple’s CarPlay Brings iPhone Experience to Automobiles

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Apple is bringing its mobile operating system to automobiles with CarPlay.  The new in-car system links users’ iPhone with their vehicles’ dashboard display, allowing drivers to access maps, music, messages and of course, their phone.

Apple already has committed partnerships with flagship brands such as Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and many more.  By bringing Apple Maps and Siri into more cars, Apple is extending opportunities for local businesses to reach consumers while they’re on-the-go.

According to a consumer survey conducted by Thrive Analytics, approximately 1 in 3 (33%) respondents said that they own an iPhone. Furthermore, about 16% of mobile users 18 and older tend to be in the car when looking for local information. This suggests that there is already a foundation by which CarPlay could build upon and become a game changer for the local search space.

Apple also announced that CarPlay will support several music-related apps.  As the platform progresses and evolves, we expect the app offering will as well.  With that being said, as apps get reworked for the CarPlay system, local search providers (Yelp, YP, etc.) might have the opportunity to help consumers find local businesses on yet another platform.

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Pew Reports Honor 25th Anniversary of the World Wide Web

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This year, the World Wide Web turns 25 years old. To honor the milestone, the Pew Research Center is releasing a series of reports documenting the Web’s impact on society as a whole. According to the first report, overall, Americans surveyed said that the Internet has been a plus for our society and an especially good thing for individual users.

Pew has been tracking the Internet’s growth since 1995. This first report looks at Internet penetration and highlights Americans’ feelings on the impact that the Internet has had on their lives.

Here are some interesting data points from the report:

  • 87% of American adults said they now use the Internet.
  • 68% of adults said they connect to the Internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.
  • 53% of Internet users said the Internet would be, at minimum, “very hard” to give up. This is compared to 35% of all adults who say their television would be very hard to give up.
  • 67% of Internet users said their online communication with family and friends has generally strengthened those relationships.

The data simply confirms a well-known trend – that the growing number of adults connected to the Internet via mobile devices is having a huge impact on how consumers get information, making it easier for them give up other media outlets like TV.  Mobile continues to dramatically disrupt the way consumers are using the Internet to access information and those of us in the local advertising space have seen this first-hand.

In coming months, Pew will release a total of eight reports about emerging trends in more specific areas of digital technology such as privacy, cybersecurity, the “Internet of things,” and net neutrality.  Click here for more information on this first report.

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Local Targeted Video: The Biggest Opportunity and Threat Since Digital

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Please join LSA and Sightly for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, March 13 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

What are the local implications of the massive growth of the online video audience? The paradigm shift from TV to online video is very similar to the shift from print to digital. A large portion of the audience has already moved but advertisers and agencies have been slow to respond. In this webinar, Sightly will discuss how local marketers can avoid being left behind by leveraging this shift for new revenue streams.

Sightly is a local video advertising platform that reaches target audiences where they live, work and buy on every screen they use—laptops, tablets, smartphones and connected TVs. They work to connect companies and their customers in the most engaging and cost effective way through end-to-end local video advertising technology. With dynamic ad personalization and programmatic media buying technology, advertisers and their agencies are able to create and deliver tailored, relevant, precisely targeted messages to viewers online in each of their markets.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

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LSA|14 Speaker Spotlight: Gian Fulgoni, comScore Co-Founder and Chairman

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Gian Fulgoni, chairman and co-founder, comScore.

Today’s Speaker Spotlight features Gian Fulgoni, co-founder and chairman of comScore.  Gian will be a keynote speaker for the 2014 Local Search Association Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif., April 27-29, and we are really looking forward to his session.

Gian brings a wealth of insights from comScore’s massive research database and will provide some local data points that we can all learn from. After all, research can provide the edge that helps marketers avoid trends and follow ROI.

We got a chance to ask Gian a few questions about his upcoming session for LSA|14 and here is what he had to say:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
I’ll be reviewing consumers’ path to purchase and how it’s being impacted by both digital and legacy marketing. Of particular importance is the role of mobile devices.

What about your session are you most excited about?
I’m fascinated by marketing insights that are gleaned from data and sharing that learning.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
While digital is changing marketing in fundamental ways, it’s important that we also understand “the truths that transcend change.” It’s all too easy to forget the lessons of the past in today’s rapidly-changing digital world and in my session I want to serve as a transition agent who bridges the digital and legacy worlds. You might call me “the keeper of the flame.”

For more on this year’s local advertising event of the year, visit

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Time for SMBs To Tackle – Or Be Tackled By – Online Reviews

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Last week, I shared results from Yodle’s inaugural “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey,” which found that a large number of small business owners don’t recognize the importance of online reviews in their customers’ decision process.

In our monthly Local Search column on Search Engine Land, I discuss why it’s time for SMB owners to take online reviews seriously, and offer key takeaways on what they should be doing to ensure their strategy keeps them ahead of their competitors.

Read my full column on Search Engine Land to learn more.

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Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Websites

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This week we focus on the importance of small business websites when it comes to attracting local consumers.  Studies consistently show that many SMBs don’t have a website, and those that do struggle with related activities including SEO, mobile optimization and formatting.

Here are some compelling stats that help put into perspective how websites are critical to any small business’ local strategy:

  • 2 in 3 American and Canadian consumers indicate that a local business having a website affects their opinion of the business and whether or not to use it. (BrightLocal)
  • 45% of US and UK SMBs said they don’t have a website, and in both cases only 6% of respondents with websites said they were mobile-optimized. (hibu)
  • 59% of consumers visit a business’ website when conducting a mobile search. (Google/Nielsen)
  • 40% of SMBs said they are going to increase their budgets for websites by 10-15% within the next 12 months. (Thrive Analytics)
  • More than 90% of SMB websites audited didn’t display a contact email address, and nearly half lacked a phone number on their homepage.  (vSplash)

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

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