12 Interesting "Local" and "Geo-Location" Conferences in 2011

I was asked by a Quora user to list “What are the best digital events focusing on ‘localisation’ this year?”. I answered on Quora.com but thought it would be a good idea to share with my blog readers as well.

Here is my top-of-mind list of interesting conferences/events with strong “local” and “geolocation” angles in 2011:

  1. Conversational Commerce Conference (Opus Research), February 2011
  2. Local Online Advertising Conference (Borrell Associates), March 2011
  3. Interactive Local Media East (BIA/Kelsey), March 2011
  4. Newspapers Association of America conference (MediaXchange), March 2011
  5. Yellow Pages Association Conference, April 2011
  6. Where 2.0 Conference (O’Reilly), April 2011
  7. European Association of Directory Publishers Conference, May 2011
  8. European Association of Directory Publishers Congress, September 2011
  9. Directional Media Strategies (BIA/Kelsey), September 2011
  10. Asian Directories Publishers Association Conference, November 2011
  11. Local Social Summit, November 2011
  12. Interactive Local Media West (BIA/Kelsey), December 2011

Check out GeoLoco (http://geoloco.tv/) as well. They haven’t announced anything yet for 2011 but they probably will.

I’m sure I forgot a few. Please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Update:

Other related conferences:

ILM:10 – Google, the "Elephant" in the Room

Excellent block of speakers this morning at the BIA/Kelsey ILM:10 conference with senior execs from both Google and Yahoo! speaking about their local strategy.

On the Google front, we first heard from Carter Maslan, Product Management Director, Local Search. He touched upon their mission (organize the world’s information geographically and make it universally accessible and useful), mentioned the new presentation of results in place pages released on October 15 and explained that local is not just one thing, it’s the various ways we lead our lives: critics, guides, tribes, events, news, products, offers, friends, credentials, and specialties.

The most insightful portion of the presentation was the Q&A session. There clearly seems to be pent up frustration between local resellers/local media publishers and Google and for the first time, we could hear very public grumbling. Probably caused by a series of Google moves including modifications to local search results pages, frustration with the AdWords reseller process and the tentative Groupon acquisition, I think the fragile coopetition equilibrium is threatened. “Elephant in the room” was mentioned by a few people. When Maslan was asked what was the role of directory publishers in the ecosystem, he said they could be the source of “credentialed businesses” as Google still has a lot of problems with listings spam. He mentioned that local ranking was based on three main dimensions: 1) the relevance of the place 2) the prominence of it 3) distance (depending on categories).

We then listened to Wesley Chan, Partner, Google Ventures. They are the investment arm for Google and are looking for great teams of entrepreneurs to back them financially and with intellectual capital. They are looking for financial returns, not for companies/projects that are strategic to Google. In fact, Chan clearly mentioned they are not grooming companies solely for Google acquisition and he hopes some of his investments will be acquired by Facebook and Microsoft! They love “local”, think it’s very early, that we will surprised many times in the next 10 years. They do all types of investments, from seed to mezzanine rounds. Chan spends 50%+ of his time on “local” opportunities. Again, more proof of the importance of local for Google.

Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp's CEO): "Mobile is the Future of our Business"

Excellent keynote to start the first day of the BIA/Kelsey conference. Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s CEO, shared with us a lot of interesting data points regarding their business.

  • How they define what they do: “connecting people with great local businesses”
  • 14 million local reviews as of today
  • Top review categories: 26% restaurants, 24% shopping, 9% beauty and fitness.
  • Expanding geographical coverage: France, Germany, Austria this year, more coming soon.
  • Yelp currently has 39M unique visitors vs. 26M last year (per their Google Analytics).
  • Monetization model: video ads, paid (ranking) ads, daily offers (what Stoppelman called the “transaction business”)

The CEO then discussed the main traffic drivers for Yelp mentioning search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and he also listed Facebook as a great source of Web traffic. He talked about how search engine optimization (SEO) in the local space (read Google…), is becoming problematic. He doesn’t think Yelp (and other local media sites) will be able to rely on Google for traffic down the road but the good news is that the industry is heading towards “mobile”. People don’t search on mobile, they use applications. At Yelp, mobile is a startup within a startup and it’s been very successful. 30% of their total traffic comes from mobile now and a business is called every 5 seconds.

He also shared his strategies for driving distribution on mobile:

  • Leveraging your web assets
  • Store promotion
  • Partnerships
  • Battle for on deck

When prodded at the end of the session, he mentioned that “Mobile is the future of our business”.

What it means: Looking at Yelp, it looks like they are becoming a more mature business (with all the good and the bad that comes with being “mature”). Google’s moves in local is definitely a threat but their move into mobile is creating huge opportunities for them. Monetization is probably still problematic (it’s very difficult to monetize merchant reviews) but “daily offers” might be a great way for them to speed up revenue generation. I think they are a good example of the strategic importance of mobile in local/social.

In the Bay Area Next Week for BIA/Kelsey's ILM:10 Conference

Next week, I will spending the week in San Francisco and in Santa Clara for a series of meetings and BIA/Kelsey’s ILM:10 conference. The conference is being held in Santa Clara December 7, 8 and 9. The agenda is jam-packed with interesting topics and speakers. I’m looking forward hearing the following people speak:

Tuesday, Dec. 7

  • Opening Keynote: Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp. I’m interested in hearing about Yelp’s recent usage and revenue growth, to see if it can maintain its relevancy in a Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare world.
  • The Big Money in Local ” panel with Dev Khare, Vice President, Venrock and Kara Nortman, VP, M&A, IAC/InterActiveCorp. I want to know what kind of investments they are looking at today, probably no Groupon clones… 🙂
  • Stephen Weis, VP, Digital Sales, Hearst Newspapers (participating in “Traditional Media, Revolutionary Thinking” panel). Hearst owns very interesting local properties in newspapers, directory publishing and online. Curious to hear how the integration is working and where they’re finding economies of scale and synergies.

Wednesday, Dec. 8

  • The “Google at ILM 2010: Refocus on Local/Location Services” session with Wesley Chan, Partner, Google Ventures and
    Carter Maslan, Product Management Director, Local Search, Google. Recently, Google has been signaling their huge interest in “Local”. It will be interesting to hear it directly from them.
  • The “Pandora: The New World of Local Radio” presentation with Cheryl Locagnero, Senior VP of Advertising Sales, Pandora and
    Brian Mikalis, VP of Performance Sales, Pandora. We rarely talk about music and radio at the Kelsey conference. I think we could learn a thing or two from these guys…
  • The presentation from Matt Idema, VP, Yahoo! Local. Are they still a player in local? I think they still are but they need to tell their story to the industry. This will be a good opportunity.
  • The presentation from Jim Sampey, COO, Cox Target Media. I just want to know his thoughts about group buying and what’s their strategy and execution plan there.
  • The “Checking In on Location-Based Services” presentation with Andy Ellwood, Director of Business Development, Gowalla and Gillian Heltai, Director, comScore. Are location-based services a business or just a feature?

Thursday, Dec. 9

  • The keynote address from Steven Johnson, I’ve heard him speak two or three times already and he’s always sharing leading-edge insights. Definitely looking forward that presentation.
  • The “Facebook Spotlight: Working With Facebook ” session. Facebook is now a must in “local”. It will be interesting to hear where they are in terms of strategy, how they integrate places, check-ins, deals, etc. in a cohesive way.
  • The “local sales” panel with Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle, Todd Rowe, Head of Global Channel Sales, Google and Geoff Stevens, Executive VP and GM, Global Business Development, WebVisible. Local sales is hard. Curious to hear about their success and discuss retention rates as well.

On Monday December 6, I’ll also try to attend Mobile Monday Silicon Valley to hear about “2010 Year in Mobile Review and 2011 Predictions”

If you’d like to connect while I’m in California, send me an e-mail at seb AT needium.com

What, Where and Now When? Time and Local Search

Today is the second edition of the Local Social Summit conference in London. I’m keynoting in the afternoon and will talk about “What, Where and Now When? – Time and Local Search”. Description: In the last 18 months, the rise of the real-time Web has created many interesting business opportunities but is this only the tip of the iceberg? Is the real-time Web hiding a bigger, more strategic opportunity? Is the temporal Web the next big revolution after “location”? Seb will present his latest thoughts on the subject.

You will find the presentation on Slideshare.

It’s a follow-up to the first presentation I did this week: Opportunities With Real Time Local Search and Content

Categorizing the Consumer Activities on a Merchant Listing

Eitan Ackerman from Amdocs just presented “IYP Search Case Studies – A Global Tour” at the IYP SearchMeet conference. I was particularly intrigued by one of his slides that details all the activities/actions a consumer can take when looking at a Yellow Pages listing online. They are:

  • Search to call: I am looking for the merchant’s phone number, often a core element of a business directory site.
  • Search to book: I want to schedule an appointment or make a reservation.
  • Search to purchase: I want to buy the product online (e-commerce)
  • Search to navigate: I want to get to the store and I’m looking for the address, map, driving directions, etc.
  • Search to additional information: I’m looking for hours of operations, brands carried, etc.
  • Click to save: I want to save/bookmark the information in my personal address book for future use.
  • Click to share: I want to share the merchant information with friends/contacts via e-mail, social networks, etc.

What it means: I like this categorization of activities because it tells us about potential proof of value points to measure advertising ROI. It’s also a way to look at future business models (pay-per-call, pay-per-action, transactions, etc.). Did Eitan forget anything?

(Picture from the BIA/Kelsey Web site)

IYP SearchMeet: Opportunities With Real Time Local Search and Content

I just finished my presentation at the IYP SearchMeet conference and just uploaded the actual document to Slideshare. Titled “Opportunities with real-time local search and content”, I explained what is the real-time content, how it’s used today and I also explored with attendees various ideas to leverage the real-time world in a Yellow Pages environment. You can see the presentation here.