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In less than two weeks, BIA/Kelsey is organizing its ILM (stands for Interactive Local Media) West 2012 Conference, a must-attend for anyone in the local media space. Held from December 4 to December 6 in Los Angeles, the team has put another yet another great line-up of speakers and panelists.

As I will be attending, I’ve put together a list of “can’t miss” keynotes and panels:

Day 1 (December 4)

  • The ILM West Kickoff: The View From BIA/Kelsey. That’s when the analysts share interesting data on “local”. Helpful for all those PowerPoint presentations you’ll be preparing in 2013
  • Opening Keynote: Bill Gross, CEO, Idealab. Bill Gross. ‘Nuff said.

There’s also panels on venture capital, on sales transformation and on innovative startups. Those are often “hit or miss” but you never know.

Day 2 (December 5)

  • The Google Executive Interview: Todd Rowe, Managing Director – SMB Global Sales, Google. Should be good.
  • Keynote: Jason Finger, CEO, CityGrid. Definitely interested to hear what CityGrid is up to. They’ve been silent recently.
  • SuperForum: Mobile’s Impact on Interactive Local Media: National to Local. Those 4 mini-sessions all focus on local and mobile.
  • Afternoon Keynote: David Krantz, CEO, YP. Like CityGrid, interested to hear the latest news at YP.
  • Targeting Local Audiences: Hollywood Shows the Way. Ah, I love when they bring new industries to the table. Lots to learn usually.

Day 3 (December 6)

  • A Discussion With Ben T. Smith IV, CEO, Wanderful Media. This one should be very very interesting. Ben’s company has been very active lately, including a huge $22M funding roundfrom newspaper companies in September.
  • Keynote Speaker: Dan Levy, Director, Global SMB Markets, Facebook. Facebook doesn’t usually share a lot of new information in these conferences, so stay tuned.

If you want to connect when I’m there, don’t hesitate to ping by e-mail: sprovencher AT gmail

In addition to the conferences, the event is great for networking. If you’re planning to attend and haven’t booked your ticket yet, Use my personal code to get $200 off the registration fees: ILMWSEB

Dex One Corporation (…) today announced a distribution agreement with Citysearch, an operating business of IAC. Dex One advertisers will now have the option to have their listings appear across CityGrid, the largest content and ad network for local, as well as DexKnows.com, Dex One’s popular online local search site.

via Dex One and Citysearch Partner to Feature DexKnows.com Advertiser Listings across CityGrid.

What it means: It makes complete sense strategically for Dex One to expand their product portfolio, leveraging their sales force to sell into Citysearch CityGrid network. On a related note, Dex One had signed a content agreement with Yelp about three weeks ago. In the future, we’ll see more and more of these reciprocal agreements featuring content aggregation and sales channel.

A deluge of important news in the local social space this morning, all very relevant from a local strategy point of view.

  1. Yesterday afternoon, PaidContent detailed AOL’s, Yahoo’s and MSN’s aggressive plans for local. All three are attracted by potential local advertising revenues. The article says “Microsoft could integrate content from local bloggers”. As for Yahoo!, they recently “rolled out a new service called “Neighbors,” which lets users ask others in their neighborhood questions”.
  2. In this interview with Stephan Uhrenbacher, Qype’s founder, he reveals the site now has 17.7m monthly unique visitors. He also says that in Germany, Qype is ” larger than the yellow pages in terms of traffic”. From reading between the lines, Qype is thinking about implementing a game mechanism (or reward system) and a check-in system à la Foursquare, two features I recommended in my “perfect local media company in 2014” presentation.
  3. Google just shipped QR code stickers to the 190,000 most popular Google local US businesses. A QR code can be scanned/photographed by a camera phone and links to the Google profile page in Google Maps when activated. The Techcrunch article adds “Local businesses can also set up coupon offers through their Google directory page, which would turn the QR code into a mobile coupon”. Mobile + QR code + coupons = monetization strategy for the real-time Web. Another important data point: “There are now over a million local businesses which have claimed their Google local listing”. Does Google need the Yellow Pages sales forces anymore?
  4. Citysearch partners with Twitter to offer tools to small businesses. Citysearch will display “tweets” on merchant pages, offer the opportunity to merchants to create their Twitter account and offer a reputation management service. A Gigaom article says “Citysearch says it has direct relationships with some 200,000 local merchants”. These things will all be required features of any local search site within a few months.
  5. Techcrunch reveals this morning that Aardvark, the social Question & Answer service, is considering an $30M+ acquisition offer from Google. The service allows people to ask questions to their friends and to the network using instant messenging and social networks.

What it means: expect these kind of partnerships, acquisitions and features deployment to speed up as industry players try to capture market share of the real-time local/social Web. Expect Facebook to make a lot of noise as well in the next few weeks (the aforementioned Gigaom article asks “who wants to take bets on how many hours till Facebook Local launches?”). They are the 900-pound gorilla. In 12 months, we will already have a good idea who will win and who will lose in that space.

I don’t want to sound like an informercial but my company Praized Media foresaw the rise of social Q&A services like Aardvark and that’s why we introduced our Answers module (currently used by Yellow Pages Group) which enables consumers to ask local questions to their network of friends. Based on market evolution, we’re also developing a white-label reputation management service that will enable social media monitoring and small merchant Twitter sign-ups (like what Citysearch is doing) because we believe it’s going to be needed in every local media company in the future. Our real-time search module also allows any media publisher to display related “tweets” on merchant profile pages. And we’re also preparing an eCouponing module to monetize all that real-time activity. We’re basically building the whole social media toolkit for local media publishers. End of infomercial. :-)

I thought it was a good opportunity today to list the next three events I will be attending.

1) The first one is [praized subtype="small" pid="66afa9c1b5e4cd2f613f200ec61d955d" type="badge" dynamic="true"] ‘s MarketPlaces 2009 conference in Los Angeles. Definitely looking forward hearing Jeff Berman (President, Sales and Marketing at MySpace) talk about verticals and local, Jay Herratti (CEO, Citysearch) discuss the latest Citysearch initiatives (maybe some fresh Facebook Connect data?) and Chris LaSala (Director of Local Markets, Google) talk about any Google Local initiatives. The conference is on March 16, 17 and 18 (yes, in 10 days!) at the [praized subtype="small" pid="d919d1d277951c5164c26320a00b783fe1" type="badge" dynamic="true"].

2) I will also be attending this year’s [praized subtype="small" pid="85bbe9714ba1f95167e8691d35364b0a8c" type="badge" dynamic="true"] conference. Believe it or not, it will be my first time after almost 10 years in the industry. They invited me to speak on a blogger panel with my friends Mike Boland and Greg Sterling. Can’t wait to hear Carol Johnson (COO, Sensis Yellow and White Pages) talk about “Sustaining Yellow and White Pages Growth” and Malcolm Gladwell talk about “Outliers”. The conference is April 26, 27 and 28 at the [praized subtype="small" pid="2824998ee1a44bb195b97335593818ba2c" type="badge" dynamic="true"].

3) Finally, a month later, I will be in sunny Barcelona at the EADP conference. I will be talking about “blended search”. Their line-up of speakers is amazing with many CEOs and Head of New Media divisions speaking at the event. The conference is May 28 and 29 at [praized subtype="small" pid="fe88067181f3c2b456ee063861fe1985" type="badge" dynamic="true"] (probably the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stayed in!).

If you want to sit down and chat at any of these events, send me an e-mail seb AT praizedmedia.com !

The Kelsey Group organization just released the list of the keynote speakers for their next conference.

From the release, “The agenda features more than 40 influential executives from across the industry, including keynoters Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing, MySpace; Jay Herratti, chief executive officer, Citysearch; and Chris LaSala, director of local markets, Google, as well as featured speakers Chip Perry, president and CEO, AutoTrader.com, and Chris Spanos, general manager, AOL local and search verticals.”

It will be interesting to hear from Google’s Chris LaSala to see if the recession is impacting their local ad sales or if they’re benefiting from their ROI-driven Adwords product. Also curious to hear from Jeff Berman (MySpace) to discover his thoughts on the “localization” of social networks. I also wonder if AutoTrader.com is hurting from the double whammy of the economic slowdown and the US car manufacturers meltdown or if people are doing more shopping online to get the best prices possible.

The next Kelsey Group conference “Marketplaces 2009” is in Los Angeles, March 16-18, 2009. I will be there if you’d like to meet.

Last week, I was in Los Angeles for the latest Kelsey Conference (ILM 07). We heard presentations from many interesting speakers, most notably Jake Winebaum from RHD, Jay Herratti from Citysearch, Chamath Palihapitiya from Facebook, Stuart McKelvey from TMP, John Hanke from Google and the always interesting Jason Calacanis from Mahalo.

Kelsey ILM 07

Once again, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with many of my local search and directory industry peers, making this conference a must-attend if you’re in the local search industry. It took me the a few days to come up with takeaways from the conference, not because there weren’t any, but because they were embedded deeply in the zeitgeist of the whole conference and needed to be extracted. After a “disappointing” 2006 (as reported in this post from SES Chicago), I think we’re at a new inflexion point for the local search industry. It was almost as if every stakeholder in the room had realized that things were not as they had seemed to be and that they were being more realistic and pragmatic about online local search.

Without further ado, here are my takeaways from Kelsey ILM 07:

  1. People are finally realizing that it is very difficult to “do” local. Both advertiser and user markets are very fragmented and local initiatives do not always scale. If you’re not “native” to the local search market, the learning curve is huge.
  2. Clearly, the online local market has not been cracked yet. There is no clear winner yet and we’re still many years away from glory days.
  3. Local is going to be huge online but the various stakeholders need to work together. Players have to identify where are their core strengths and weaknesses and partner to fill the gaps (either through aggregation of technologies, content or sales). M&A should be on everyone’s mind as well. Expect a very active 2008 on that front.
  4. We heard the second reality check coming from a directory publisher in a couple of months. Time is running out and it’s now time to execute.
  5. Verticalization is starting to happen. People are realizing that there are user & advertiser differences between yellow pages headings. We might finally see some real segmentation in the industry (headings-based pricing, vertical sites, specific ad products and content, etc.) .
  6. Call-tracking/pay-per-call is now a strategic pillar of local. To solve the media fragmentation issue, this offers a unified business model to aggregate various products together and simplify the sales process.
  7. Mobile is still the holy grail of local search, coming soon, but not in 2008. Maybe 2009.

I am attending the Kelsey Group’s ILM 07 conference next week in Los Angeles (e-mail me at seb AT praized.com if you want to connect). Taking a look a the various speakers and presentations, here are the ones I’m most looking forward to:

Kelsey ILM 07

Wednesday November 28

1) Industry Overview by the Kelsey Group Analyst Team. Always interesting and insightful.

2) Jake Winebaum, President, RHDi, CEO, Business.com. I’m dying to know how RHD will leverage Business.com in their core strategy.

3) Jay Herratti, President, Citysearch. Will Citysearch’s strategy change with Herratti on board?

Thursday November 29

1) Chamath Palihapitiya, VP of Product Marketing & Operations, Facebook. Will we learn about Facebook’s local strategy?

2) The “Localized E-Commerce” panel. I’m a strong believer in the “last-mile of local search” (local product inventory, in-store navigation, tuangou, etc.) but it’s very difficult to execute.

3) The “Future of Local Mobile” panel. As local and mobile is on the verge of exploding, this will either be an incredible panel or will be very boring.

4) A Conversation With Webpreneur Jason Calacanis. Now, this should be fun!

Friday November 30

1) Marchex and The Vertical Opportunity in Local. Marchex has some amazing local assets (localized URLs, VoiceStar, SEM platform, etc.). I’m always interested in learning more about their local strategy and how these assets work together.

2) Injecting ‘Social’ into Local Media. It’s the theme of the Praized blog…

For people attending, see you all next week!

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