As some of you, I’m coming back from a great vacation in the south of France. I was mostly offline for the duration of the vacation but still regularly picked-up French newspapers while I was there, most notably Le Monde (for national and international news) and La Provence (for local news). I kept a few articles that I think were blog-worthy and I’m going to share those with you in the coming days.

The first article titled “Rebond du marché publicitaire français en 2010″ (Advertising spending in France bounces back in 2010) was published on October 1st in Le Monde (paid link). The article discusses ad spending in France in the first semester of 2010 by various media vehicles. Data comes from Institut de recherches et études publicitaires (IREP) and data can be found here (.pdf).

I found the following interesting data points:

  • Television is the number one media in terms of ad spending (by far) with 1.7 billion euros and a growth of 12.8% over the same period last year
  • “Internet”, it seems, only takes into account display advertising (i.e. banners)
  • “Internet” gets 264 million euros in spending, a growth of only 9% vs. same period last year. Outdoor advertising growth is almost as much with 7.3%.

What it means: a couple of observations. First, television still rules in terms of ad spending. That media hasn’t (yet!) been hit hard by the Web and still benefits from huge ad budgets. The atomization of TV programs (think on-demand online streaming) is still in its infancy and will not impact TV’s numbers drastically for at least 3-5 more years. Second, I’m not surprised display ads are not growing as fast as we would expect the Web to grow. Even though it is still the preferred method for online advertising, I’m not a big believer in its future. Third, I’m surprised IREP doesn’t do a better job at tracking online advertising in general. PagesJaunes Groupe, the French Yellow Pages, saw their online revenues grow by 6.7% just in the second quarter of 2010 (see press release in .pdf) for a total of 263.9 million euros. That’s an equal amount to what’s recorded by IREP for “display ads”!

This morning, I had the chance to sit down with Gilles Barbier, CEO and co-founder of TellMeWhere (Dismoiou in French), a Paris-based European social Yellow Pages service. As with any ratings/reviews service, people can find places (see Le Louvre profile page for example), read the basic information, see the map and pictures, rate/comment on the place, see what others have said and discover related places. So far, although well executed, it’s not very different feature-wise than a lot of ratings/reviews sites like Yelp or Qype.

Mobile as a differentiator

Where it gets really interesting is with their iPhone application (they also have an Android one). The beautifully designed (both from a user interface and user experience) app is where the rubber really hit the road for the young startup founded three years ago. Launched in July, the mobile version has been downloaded more than 400,000 times (on a total of 2 million iPhones in France).

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Home

Features include:

  • Location-based business search
  • Ability to rate/comment places and broadcast your comment on Twitter/Facebook
  • See feedback from other users and your friends
  • See recommendations based on your tastes
  • Great integration of Facebook Connect with instant account creation based on your Facebook information
  • Push of your activities to your friends’ phone and possibility for your friends to answer you back via SMS
  • Integration with Google Maps
  • Integration with the iPhone camera allowing users to take a picture and upload it right away to the place profile page

TellMeWhere iPhone Application recommendations

The release of their iPhone application has created a lot of user traction. Barbier asked me to pick a small town in France just to prove the breadth of usage. I chose Venasque, a small 1000-inhabitant village in Provence where I stayed last spring. I think there are only a dozen businesses in the village. TellMeWhere had two votes in their system. They even had a few activities in smaller towns in Canada. And now they’re on the verge of releasing version 2.0 of their mobile application of the iPhone and it will include check-in functionality (like Foursquare) and an activity stream of everything your friends are doing to enable real-time discovery. You can see a video of the new application here.

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Place Profile

Barbier shared with me that they’ve now realized their mobile applications (built in-house) have become strategic for the small 7-employee company. The combination of mobile + local + social (utilizing an existing identity system like Facebook Connect) is a winning formula.

Mobile will be disruptive

And this is where, in the future of local search, mobile wins (as opposed to the Web). I finally see the light and now realizes that mobile will probably be the great disruptor it was always supposed to be. Why? Because, as Barbier said, mobile usage is real. It’s grounded in real life, with your day-to-day local usage and your social graph. That’s how you build usage. In web-based local search, it’s all about search engine optimization (SEO) these days as it’s very expensive to build new brands. It’s traffic coming from Google and other search engines from users with little loyalty. And with the Mountain View goliath hosting more and more content on their own site, I suspect that strategy will soon go off its rails.

Real-time business model

As for TellMeWhere’s business model, they’re monetizing using “special offers”. Merchants can claim their listing and submit deals/coupons/special offers (the best way to monetize real-time local as I’ve often said). It’s a pay-per-action model (or as Barbier coined it “pay-per-visit) where merchants only pay when the user displays the coupon on their phone on location. With geo-location, it’s easy to verify if the user was really on premise or not when he displayed the coupon. Barbier told me he can charge 4 euros to restaurants each time someone uses a coupon. Sounds like a good model.

I think TellMeWhere has everything to become Europe’s Foursquare. The application is beautifully executed and is easy to use. Current usage seems to show a very positive trend. They have traction in France and other francophone countries and want to go after the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. You should definitely check out their iPhone application if you want to see a great social/local mobile app.

Update: Gilles Barbier tells me version 2.0 of his application has been approved by Apple and is now available for download.

This morning, I had the chance to sit down with Gilles Barbier, CEO and co-founder of TellMeWhere (Dismoiou in French), a Paris-based European social Yellow Pages service. As with any ratings/reviews service, people can find places (see Le Louvre profile page for example), read the basic information, see the map and pictures, rate/comment on the place, see what others have said and discover related places. So far, although well executed, it’s not very different feature-wise than a lot of ratings/reviews sites like Yelp or Qype.

Mobile as a differentiator

Where it gets really interesting is with their iPhone application (they also have an Android one). The beautifully designed (both from a user interface and user experience) app is where the rubber really hit the road for the young startup founded three years ago. Launched in July, the mobile version has been downloaded more than 400,000 times (on a total of 2 million iPhones in France).

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Home

Features include:

  • Location-based business search
  • Ability to rate/comment places and broadcast your comment on Twitter/Facebook
  • See feedback from other users and your friends
  • See recommendations based on your tastes
  • Great integration of Facebook Connect with instant account creation based on your Facebook information
  • Push of your activities to your friends’ phone and possibility for your friends to answer you back via SMS
  • Integration with Google Maps
  • Integration with the iPhone camera allowing users to take a picture and upload it right away to the place profile page

TellMeWhere iPhone Application recommendations

The release of their iPhone application has created a lot of user traction. Barbier asked me to pick a small town in France just to prove the breadth of usage. I chose Venasque, a small 1000-inhabitant village in Provence where I stayed last spring. I think there are only a dozen businesses in the village. TellMeWhere had two votes in their system. They even had a few activities in smaller towns in Canada. And now they’re on the verge of releasing version 2.0 of their mobile application of the iPhone and it will include check-in functionality (like Foursquare) and an activity stream of everything your friends are doing to enable real-time discovery. You can see a video of the new application here.

TellMeWhere iPhone Application Place Profile

Barbier shared with me that they’ve now realized their mobile applications (built in-house) have become strategic for the small 7-employee company. The combination of mobile + local + social (utilizing an existing identity system like Facebook Connect) is a winning formula.

Mobile will be disruptive

And this is where, in the future of local search, mobile wins (as opposed to the Web). I finally see the light and now realizes that mobile will probably be the great disruptor it was always supposed to be. Why? Because, as Barbier said, mobile usage is real. It’s grounded in real life, with your day-to-day local usage and your social graph. That’s how you build usage. In web-based local search, it’s all about search engine optimization (SEO) these days as it’s very expensive to build new brands. It’s traffic coming from Google and other search engines from users with little loyalty. And with the Mountain View goliath hosting more and more content on their own site, I suspect that strategy will soon go off its rails.

Real-time business model

As for TellMeWhere’s business model, they’re monetizing using “special offers”. Merchants can claim their listing and submit deals/coupons/special offers (the best way to monetize real-time local as I’ve often said). It’s a pay-per-action model (or as Barbier coined it “pay-per-visit) where merchants only pay when the user displays the coupon on their phone on location. With geo-location, it’s easy to verify if the user was really on premise or not when he displayed the coupon. Barbier told me he can charge 4 euros to restaurants each time someone uses a coupon. Sounds like a good model.

I think TellMeWhere has everything to become Europe’s Foursquare. The application is beautifully executed and is easy to use. Current usage seems to show a very positive trend. They have traction in France and other francophone countries and want to go after the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. You should definitely check out their iPhone application if you want to see a great social/local mobile app.

Update: Gilles Barbier tells me version 2.0 of his application has been approved by Apple and is now available for download.

In Europe Next Week

October 9, 2009

I will be in Europe next week for business, certainly in France, in Germany and in Italy and possibly in the UK. I’m still firming up meetings and if you’d like to meet while I’m there, send me an e-mail at sprovencher AT praizedmedia.com

I will also be back in Europe, beginning of November, as I will be speaking at the first Local Social Summit in London. The event is happening on November 3rd at the [praized subtype=”small” pid=”5af504ca5d02026b527046262985199a” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] and tickets are still available. If we don’t have the chance to meet next week, we can also schedule something that first week of November as I will probably be traveling to other countries before or after the event.

Just stumbled upon this interview with Andrew Hunter, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e05a4250d652484974e47fda5bd84b6b” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s VP of Marketing (listed as UK country manager on Linkedin). The interview with Hunter starts at 3:35.

The VP says Qype is similar to [praized subtype=”small” pid=”fbc5d89826a49a78e7c8f39d86f90980f2″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] but that their main difference is that it’s multilingual. He says they have communities in 9 European countries plus Brazil. When asked what Qype has in common with Yelp, he says that both are strong believers in community (their main growth driver). They also have a city-by-city approach stating that cities like London, Edinburgh,  Manchester and university towns like Oxford and Cambridge love Qype immediately. He adds that their business model is similar (I discussed Qype’s and Yelp’s business model previously). Hunter says the number one benefit of Qype for users is the quality and volume of reviews.

He ends the interview by telling us Hamburg and Berlin are the largest communities on Qype, mentioning that the site has 5 million unique visitors from Germany out of 11 million total (according to their CEO, they had 9 million users in May). This is not surprising given the company was founded in Hamburg. The UK and France are the second biggest countries with 2 million unique visitors each.

Just stumbled upon this interview with Andrew Hunter, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e05a4250d652484974e47fda5bd84b6b” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s VP of Marketing (listed as UK country manager on Linkedin). The interview with Hunter starts at 3:35.

The VP says Qype is similar to [praized subtype=”small” pid=”fbc5d89826a49a78e7c8f39d86f90980f2″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] but that their main difference is that it’s multilingual. He says they have communities in 9 European countries plus Brazil. When asked what Qype has in common with Yelp, he says that both are strong believers in community (their main growth driver). They also have a city-by-city approach stating that cities like London, Edinburgh,  Manchester and university towns like Oxford and Cambridge love Qype immediately. He adds that their business model is similar (I discussed Qype’s and Yelp’s business model previously). Hunter says the number one benefit of Qype for users is the quality and volume of reviews.

He ends the interview by telling us Hamburg and Berlin are the largest communities on Qype, mentioning that the site has 5 million unique visitors from Germany out of 11 million total (according to their CEO, they had 9 million users in May). This is not surprising given the company was founded in Hamburg. The UK and France are the second biggest countries with 2 million unique visitors each.

TechCrunch offers a list of new start-ups operating in the space they call “the holy grail of mobile social networking”: “physical presence detection and information exchange with other users.”

Aka-Aki (Germany): “create a profile and download the java app to your phone. You can also create and join groups that say things about your life, job, etc. When you are near other people who are members, data about you is transmitted to them via bluetooth, and vice versa. Users have control over data flow with privacy settings.”

Imity (Denmark): “it detects other members via bluetooth and send basic profile information to your phone. It also keeps track of people on its website, so you can check that out periodically from your normal computer. It’s bridges mobile and traditional social networks, which may help it gain critical mass.”

MeetMoi (USA): “it uses text messaging to help connect people. It’s dating focused – text your location to the service and it notifies other users in your area that you are there. If they are interested, they can contact you.”

MobiLuck (France): it “is another bluetooth solution similar to Aka-Aki and Imity. Download the software to your phone and it vibrates when other users are nearby. You can then chat with them, send photos, etc.”

BrightKite (USA): “serves location based notifications (”place streaming”) over email, instant messaging of text messages. The idea is to stream content about a place, from a place. Friends are alerted when you are nearby. You receive offers from local businesses. Etc. Targeted towards conferences, bars, parties and public places. It is also a platform for third party applications.”

What it means: Talking about critical success factors, TechCrunch mentions that “what’s harder is just plain getting a critical mass of users.” I would answer that’s only one side of the equation. The other one is monetization and I believe local advertising plays a key role there. If you operate a local play, you should be thinking hard about your mobile strategy today. My gut feeling is that we’re 18-24 months from real breakthroughs in local mobile advertising but, when that happens, it might become a very important source of revenues. How big? The Kelsey Group just released a report on US mobile search advertising revenues and they forecast that it will reach $1.4B in 2012.

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