January 14, 2013
Today, I’m very happy to announce that I’ve joined HomeAdvisor Canada as Vice President of Product Innovation. Based out of Montreal (Canada), I will be responsible for growing HomeAdvisor in Canada and developing innovative new products for homeowners and service professionals.
For those of you less familiar with HomeAdvisor (formerly called ServiceMagic), it is a U.S.-based company that connects homeowners with pre-screened and customer-rated service professionals and provides a suite of comprehensive tools, products and resources to help with home improvement, maintenance and repair needs. HomeAdvisor’s international operations include Canada, France, UK and Germany. HomeAdvisor is a subsidiary of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI). You can find out more about the company in its “About” section.
I’m very impressed with the company’s senior management team and I’m excited to join the organization. This new senior role fits perfectly as a next step in my career, allowing me to continue building innovative local search products in a very entrepreneurial environment.
You can find the official press release announcement here.
Vous trouverez le communiqué de presse officiel ici.
November 22, 2012
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
December 13, 2011
- Total online searches grew 9% year-over-year to exceed 19.3 billion searches in September 2011
- 2.8 billion of those searches were “local” (a growth of 9% from last year). Local searches growth is decelerating
- IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) searches are down 20% year-over-year
- 1.7 billion click-thrus to directories and regional/local content sites were generated from search in sept 2011
- Top organic search terms by click-through rates: driving directions, white pages, yellow pages, maps, los angeles
- 10% of US display ads are locally targeted
- 3 of every 4 mobile subscribers own a device with GPS capability
- Over one third own a smartphone
- Mobile search usage grew 25% year-over-year with 26% penetration in September 2011
- Search is the top activity of mobile browser users. Social networking is second.
- 88 million mobile subscribers access local content on a mobile device, up 28% from a year ago.
- Nearly 40% of mobile users access local content on their device in September 2011, compared with 75% for smartphone owners
- 16.3 million smartphone owners scanned a QR code, 43% in a retail store, 42% from a product packaging.
- Total local advertising revenues for 2011 will be $135.9 billion, down from the $136.2 billion it forecast earlier this year
- Traditional media segments such as Yellow Pages and newspapers are experiencing the largest downward revisions
- U.S. local online/digital advertising revenues will rise to $23.3 billion in 2011, compared with $22.3 billion predicted earlier this year
- Local online/ digital advertising revenues will be 17.2 percent of total local advertising revenues in 2011, up from the earlier forecast of 16.4 percent. By 2015 that share will increase to 25.4 percent, up from the 24.7 percent originally predicted
- The overall local media market will grow slowly over the next five years, at a compound annual growth rate of 1.7 percent, reaching $149.4 billion by 2015
The rest/details of the forecast will be revealed at their next conference ILM West 2011, in downtown San Francisco, December 12 to 14. I will be attending the conference. BTW, I just reserved my hotel using Hotwire and I found a 4-star hotel within walking distance for $109/night. See you there!
I’m a little late covering this (the news was announced on Monday) but the Yellow Pages Association just announced a rebranding as the Local Search Association.
From the release:
The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) today unveiled a new name – Local Search Association – alongside a new visual identity, reflecting the industry’s transition from print publisher to a provider of local search services to small businesses and their consumers.
The announcement is an important step in the right direction for the industry but is not surprising. Major directory publishers had started making the transition from “directory” to “local search” as early as 2002-2003 (I was part of the team that made the change at Yellow Pages Group). Most of them now behave like large local search agencies who also own media properties. So, the name fits perfectly the new strategy (by the way, anyone else thinks it’s amazing that the name was still available?)
I would have liked to be at their conference this week, to take the pulse of the attendees regarding the change. As I told Neg Norton, the Local Search Association president, when we discussed the announcement, the real litmus test will be when new local search industry stakeholders become members en masse on both sides of the spectrum. First the big players like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and maybe Twitter. And then, small local search engine marketing agencies. These guys will infuse new cultural strains and help propel the association forward. But a clear “what’s in it for them” needs to be presented and event/membership competition in the very sexy geo-space is fierce (I counted at least 12 different geo and local conferences in 2011). I think they can do it but there’s a lot of work ahead.
At the BIA/Kelsey ILM East 2011 conference this morning, we heard from Lior Ron, the Group Product Manager for Google Places (including Maps and Hotpot).
A couple of interesting information points came out:
- Google Places contains 50M places around the world
- They felt they were missing “people” in the local equation and that’s why they launched Google Hotpot
- Hotpot is all about organizing the web around people and places and is a local recommendation engine.
- Hotpot now has generated more than 3M reviews and ratings (see this BIA/Kelsey post from last week for more data points)
Lior Ron said that Hotpot is not about Google building another silo or reviews site. It’s about collecting short signals to enable better ranking/relevancy. A few conference attendees were not convinced by that statement.
At the BIA/Kelsey conference yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with the two co-founders of SeniorChecked, Chris Spanos and Scott Knowles. Both ex-AOLers with solid experience in the local space, they’ve built this vertical local directory site targeting Seniors and their family.
Their mission is to help reduce the risk and incidence of fraud against Seniors by connecting them to trusted local businesses. Local service providers pay them $700 a year for a detailed review which eventually gets them a seal of approval from SeniorChecked. This is the list of things they investigate before approving a merchant.
Obviously a great vertical with the aging baby boomers population (Yellow Pages Group had published a print directory on the topic a few years ago) and an important life event that involves many business categories, Scott and Chris have stumbled upon a better business model than I had expected before sitting down with them. This is not a business directory play, this is a “seal of approval” play.
Why is this an important distinction? If you’re building a vertical business directory, you need to sell advertising AND convince users to come to your site. A very difficult challenge for any startup. But if you’re selling a trusted seal, advertisers will “sell” consumers to your brand. They will promote the seal in-store and in their brochures (SeniorChecked provides advertisers with a promotion package that includes stickers, logo, etc.). Consumers might eventually come back to the SeniorChecked.com site searching in the directory to make sure that the company is legit but this is not the core business. Because a seal is a simple content “atom”, it also enables SeniorChecked to distribute their approved merchants in other directory sites.
The long term picture for SeniorChecked is also very interesting. They’ve basically built a platform which enables them to launch other verticals where trust plays a big role. They want to build these verticals themselves or partner with other people, as a technology provider, to launch them.
This is not the first company to try a “seal of approval” (ValueStar comes to mind) but by verticalizing, SeniorChecked might be taking the right road to success. I’ll be following them.