BIA/Kelsey ILM West 2012 Conference: A Preview

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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

comScore: The State of the Local Search Nation

On day 2 of the BIA/Kelsey ILM 2011 conference,  Gillian Heltai, Senior Director at comScore presented a series of interesting data points to attendees:

  • 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.

Bob Pittman on Brand Building

Bob Pittman, CEO, Clear Channel Media Holdings (and MTV co-founder amongst other accomplishments) was the opening keynote speaker yesterday morning at the BIA/Kelsey ILM West conference in San Francisco.

In a search engine marketing world, where many people think brand advertising is dead, Pittman presented a compelling integrated marketing model (loosely based on the AIDA model) that shows brand building is key to generate sales. It goes as follow:

o Arouse a consumer’s interest in a product/service (through big reach and passion)
o Remind them of their interest until purchase (via reach and frequency)
o Allow them to research the product/service (via interactive apps with scale)
o Let them effortlessly find where to buy the product/service (dealer locators)
o Let them hear advertising messages when in the buying mindset
o Reinforce their purchase decision – retention
o Encourage and facilitate word of mouth – (via viral marketing  and social media)

He also explained that brand is the thing that happens when consumers are predisposed to buying your product and have stopped comparison shopping. That’s also an interesting insight.

The Benefits of the Real-Time Web for Consumers and SMBs

I moderated a panel yesterday at the Local Social Summit on the real-time Web and its impacts on the Local/Social space. Details here.

Don’t have much time to write a long post but one of the key insights that came out of the panel was:

Main benefit of the real-time Web for consumers: convenience. You get your needs/wants answered in quasi real-time, you live a more efficient life, etc.

Main benefit of the real-time Web for businesses: differentiation. It’s difficult for businesses to adapt to the demand of the real-time Web but those that will might be able to build a strong business on that differentiating factor.

The Right Place At The Right Time: My Panel at the Local Social Summit

I will be moderating a panel on day one of the next Local Social Summit happening in London on November 9 and 10 (it’s a two-day event this year). The panel is titled The Right Place At The Right Time: How The Real-Time Web Influences The “local” World.

Its description: The rise of the real-time Web is well documented.Propelled by both the social networking revolution and mobile device ubiquitousness, we’re seeing the birth of new user services and business opportunities. In this panel,  we will explore the time element in the local/social Web and will try to discover what kind of content works well in real-time, what are the benefits for consumers and what kind of business models can be deployed to leverage the
“time” dimension.

My panelists:

People that have been reading this blog and following my Twitter feed know that I’ve been interested in the real-time (sometimes called the Alive Web)and the temporal Web for a few years now.

On day two, I’m also on a panel titled Can Social Media Be Outsourced? headed by Jonathan Ewert from Codero. I’m looking forward to that discussion as well!

It should be an excellent conference with speakers from Yelp, Foursquare, European Directories, Decarta, Mueller-Medien, the BBC, in addition to Greg Sterling, Dennis Yu and Perry Evans.

The organizers have provided me with a 20% discount to my readers but I hear there are less than 20 tickets left. So, hurry up if you want to join us. I will be in London the whole week. If you want to meet, ping me at seb AT needium.com.

in Europe Next Week

Flickr picture by Mollajo

I’m flying to Europe next week.

First stop is London to discuss with potential Needium resellers for the UK market. London is the biggest city in the world in terms of Twitter usage and this definitely shows in the Needium dashboard with more than 1 million geo-tweets per day. We’re looking to discuss with UK-based ad agencies, SEO/SEM firms, newspaper publishers, directory publishers, etc. interested in reselling the white-label version of our product.

Second stop is Majorca for the European Association of Directory Publishers (EADP) conference. I speak on the first day, topic is “Conversational commerce – Why You Should Care What @JoePublic Had For Lunch”. Should be fun!

If you’d like to meet me while I’m in London or at the EADP conference, send me an e-mail at seb AT needium.com

Yellow Pages Association Morphs into the Local Search Association

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.

On Two Montreal Conference Panels Next Week

Next week, I will be on two great panels at two different Montreal conferences. One discussing “social shopping” and the other one talking about “social media for businesses”.

Details:

Ecommerce et expérience de shopping social“, Wednesday April 13 at Intracom Montreal 2011 (organized by ActionTI).

“Virage web social pour une entreprise : une nécessité?”, Thursday April 14,  Rendez-Vous du Web 2011 (organized by Infopresse).

Don’t hesitate to ping me if you want to connect!

The Daily Deals Industry in Numbers

(picture by Kenny Herman)

Jim Moran, Cofounder at Yipit, took the stage this morning to share with us many interesting quantitative data points about the daily deals industry.

About the daily deals market:

  • It has low barriers to entry. Yipit has identified 400+ daily deal sites in North America
  • That number has been increasing rapidly because of white-label technology platform providers and the entrance of major media companies in the space.
  • The market has high barriers to scale though. You need to scale sales, geographies, salespeople, number of deals, media buying (to advertise your service), subscribers, offer deal personalization and increase conversion in order to truly scale. Jim showed a great slide showing the “virtuous cycle of daily deals”.
  • Looking at a slide that presented the types of stakeholders in the ecosystem, you could clearly see that the next big opportunity is “Merchant Agencies”, that would negotiate deals across providers.

In the top 20 markets (February 2011 data):

  • Groupon had $39M in revenues (#1 player)
  • Livingsocial: almost $12M in revenues (#2 player)

Top daily deal verticals by revenue:

  • Hair removal
  • Food/grocery
  • Massage
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Spas
  • Automotive services
  • Yoga

From a merchant economics point of view, Yipit found:

  • A breakage rate smaller or equal to 20% (this is the percentage of deals unredeemed)
  • That deals became profitable for merchants if they were able to retain 19% of coupon buyers
  • High merchant satisfaction: 93% said they would use a daily deal site for another promotion
  • Some ad spend shifting: 43% say we’re reducing other advertising spend after running daily deal.

His biggest surprise from the data they collected: the gap between Groupon and LivingSocial seems to be narrowing. You can review his complete presentation here.

Following Jim Moran’s presentation, we heard from Eric Eichmann, COO at LivingSocial. Here are the interesting tidbits from his keynote:

  • LivingSocial describe themselves as “the local commerce expert helping people discover new experiences in their neighborhood”
  • Daily offers is a pivot for LivingSocial (like Groupon). They used to be a Facebook applications developer.
  • Their pillars of success are: local, mobile, social and commerce
  • They like to target neighborhoods as opposed to cities
  • They launched “Instant deals” in their mobile app. They are real-time mobile deals.
  • LivingSocial today: 12 countries, 230 markets, 24 million members, 1200 employees

David Weinberger’s Thoughts on Local and Social

On Monday, I probably watched the best keynote I’ve ever seen at BIA/Kelsey conferences. David Weinberger, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, author of Everything is Miscellaneous, and Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University gave us his thoughts on local/social.

I will never be able to capture his whole speech in this post but here are some of the thoughts that blew my mind.

Talking about networks and markets, he obviously said the very famous “markets are conversations”, describing them as being connected, real and out of control but he also added “markets are networks”. People are shopping for things (like  a new car) and this base of shoppers is changing every minute as people drop out of that process and new people come in.

Talking about huge networks like Facebook and Twitter, he explained to us why these networks happened so quickly. He told us the web is made of interests, people talking about stuff. They have an interest and they’re meeting with people with similar interest. meeting of interest. If we engage on the Net with other people online, it’s because we share the same interest. The big question is what happen when companies arrive and want to have a conversation. Traditionally, businesses have a single interest: profit. Consumers are weary because interests are not necessarily aligned. Why would I engage on the Net with companies if we don’t share same interest?

He said he didn’t like the expression “social media” as media has traditionally stood between people but that’s not happening with social media because “we are the medium”. We are a medium that passes things along. We move it because we found it interesting and thought that you would find it interesting as well. The stuff we share is so compelling that we put our reputation on the line to pass it along.

He also talked about the impact of social media on our sense of time. It used to be, when you graduated, you lost track of people. You only saw them again when you went to your reunion. If you left a job, you lost track of your former colleagues. Our kids will have their friends/colleagues/contacts with them for the rest of their lives because why would you push someone outside of your memory, delete them, unless they’ve done something bad?

And with mobility, we get ubiquitous connectivity. We can connect with any of our contacts at any time. We’re now filling “moments” all the time, for example, when we’re waiting. We’re filling up everything, with no empty time. We’ve reached plenum, a plenum of interests, filled with what we care about.

Talking about “local”, he said it’s becoming embedded in the Net more and more but that when we get to ubiquitous access, things will change. The Internet will match our real lives. We are inventing the “blur” between online and offline (the real world).

As for things that are challenged by social in the local space, Weinberger mentioned pricing. Owners were used to set their prices but with daily deals, for example, they’re losing some of that pricing power. The notion of inside and outside the store is also blurring. We want to know everything about a business. The outside is becoming the inside. The shared common space where we engage with one another is becoming the inside of the store. A good example is the mayorship in Foursquare.

He concluded by mentioning three imperatives for local media companies (and merchants): Align, add, and get out of the way. It’s not about you. Consumers know better than you what they need, what they want.