Twitter's Ineluctable March Towards Local Relevancy

Multiple news in the last few days points towards Twitter and Facebook becoming serious forces in the world of “local”.

First, in yet another chapter of Twitter’s improvements to become locally relevant, it has started rolling out its “local trends” for a series of US cities and ome countries (probably based on the ones with the most usage).

Twitter Local Trends Techcrunch screenshot

Screenshot source: Techcrunch

On a related note, the Kelsey Group analysts issued five predictions for 2010 and one of them is “location and geotargeted advertising will represent a long-elusive revenue stream for Twitter and for third parties that mash up Twitter streams and location data.” They also suggest Facebook will also “integrate automatic location detection into the status updates” .

Third, supporting the permanent shift of user behavior towards sites like Facebook and Twitter, Forrester reports that “a third of all Internet users in the U.S. now post status updates on social networking services like Twitter and Facebook at least once per week.”

Fourth, David Hornik, a well-known American investor, recently attended a Procter & Gamble (P&G) outreach event in Silicon Valley. Asked what they thought of Twitter, Hornik writes: “To P&G, Twitter is a great broadcast medium — it is best for one to many communications that are short bursts of timely information — but as good as it is for timely information, the P&G folks do not view it as particularly relevant to what they are doing on the brand building and advertising side. For those things that Proctor & Gamble thinks are most interesting and important, they do not believe that Twitter will ever approach the value they can get out of a Google or Facebook.” This reminds me of what big brands think of Yellow Pages as a medium. They don’t understand it but it’s still drives business for millions of advertisers. Twitter will be (is?) all about the same thing. And for the record, I’ve always thought packaged-goods companies could have made a killing with Yellow Pages by making their product information locally-relevant…

Fifth, Hitwise’s traffic reports in Australia (as reported in ReadWriteWeb) show that “For perhaps the first time ever, social networking sites have surpassed the traffic search engines receive”. That would explain why in the long run Google is afraid of the new conversational capacity of sites like Facebook and Twitter. And why they’re racing to
introduce
social functionalities within Google Maps.

What it means: Twitter and Facebook are both on their way to becoming serious local discovery and communication tools. It is happening.

Twitter's Future Local Filters

Improvements like geolocation have the potential to make the Internet suddenly relevant to society as it is lived, not just relevant to what happens online. Mr. Sarver imagines features like “local trending topics,” a list of subjects popular in a particular area; or searches for happy hour in a neighborhood of Dallas that will intelligently link tweets about happy hours to the place they were sent from.Because GPS will provide the ability to become very “granular” with locations, you could mimic through Twitter the banter at the local diner or a barbershop, by limiting a search of tweets to a two-block radius.

via Link by Link – Refining the Twitter Explosion With GPS – NYTimes.com.

What it means: described by a product manager at Twitter, “local” will be an important information filter in the Twitter platform. Seems like interesting information for any local media publisher to get the local pulse.

Twitter's Future Local Filters

Improvements like geolocation have the potential to make the Internet suddenly relevant to society as it is lived, not just relevant to what happens online. Mr. Sarver imagines features like “local trending topics,” a list of subjects popular in a particular area; or searches for happy hour in a neighborhood of Dallas that will intelligently link tweets about happy hours to the place they were sent from.Because GPS will provide the ability to become very “granular” with locations, you could mimic through Twitter the banter at the local diner or a barbershop, by limiting a search of tweets to a two-block radius.

via Link by Link – Refining the Twitter Explosion With GPS – NYTimes.com.

What it means: described by a product manager at Twitter, “local” will be an important information filter in the Twitter platform. Seems like interesting information for any local media publisher to get the local pulse.

Canpages Acquires Social Recommendation Site GigPark.com, Validates Praized's Model

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”58d245fd7e8f20800dee0ecd3af21f08″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], the second-largest directory publisher in Canada, announced Sunday night the acquisition of GigPark, a self-funded social recommendation site from Toronto, Canada. For Canpages, it’s the second local/social acquisition in two months. The first was Ziplocal in June. This acquisition is the latest in a series of “local media” technology/people acquisitions in the last few months. I noted five other ones in a blog post I wrote two weeks ago.

Interestingly enough, this is the kind of white-label enterprise technology Praized Media is proposing to directory publishers and other local media publishers worldwide. Yellow Pages Group, Canada’s largest directory publisher, is using our Answers module at answers.yellowpages.ca. We’re also currently deploying our real-time activity stream and real-time search technology within a major local portal and our technology stack has generated interest from about a dozen players in Canada, in the US and in Europe. Because of that, as co-founder of Praized Media, I was asked by a few people yesterday what I thought of this acquisition.

1) I am very happy for Pema Hegan and Noah Godfrey for this acquisition. Good work guys! I know how much work goes into building a startup. You’ll see, it’s actually fun working in the directory industry!

2) As a crystal-ball gazer, I am delighted to see directory companies fully embracing social media, even though it’s not our technology they end up using. As I’ve been writing about in the last three years, social media is key to the future of traditional local media firms. The “social” trend in the directory space is not a fad.

3) Reviews and recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg in social/local. The next evolution is “real-time”. Google is thinking about it, Twitter announced last week that they would support geo-location in their API which will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet and Facebook is bound to announce something very soon.

4) The acquisition of technology assets & people by local media publishers validate our core business model of working as technology providers to local media publishers. There is a clear need out there for our product offer and the Praized team is a world-class product & development team in the local/social technology space.

So, what to expect in the next 6 to 12 months?

1) Definitely expect more acquisitions and possibly some mergers. As Kelsey Group analyst Matt Booth said last week during a Kelsey webinar, local media publishers should try to put their hands on interesting companies and assets this year before the economy picks up again next year. The idea is to be ready with new, groundbreaking revenue-generating opportunities when good times come rolling again.

2) Also expect more rapid innovation in the space. Robert Scoble is quickly cluing in to the business potential of local recommendations in a post yesterday where he compared Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yelp. He says:

How will Facebook collect the cash? Well, go to Google and let’s do that sushi search for Boulder, Colorado again. Did you see how that list works? Facebook needs that list. Twitter isn’t even close. But what’s missing? PEOPLE! Imagine if this list, when it’s brought to you by Facebook, shows that #1 has been liked by 14 of your friends? Businesses get that for free. But what don’t they get for free? Yelp’s “offers.” Businesses PAY to “offer” things to customers to try to move up the list. So, if you’re the #3 business on the list, you might say “bring your iPhone in and you’ll get free beer.” Doing that will cost you money, both in the free beer and the advertising you’ll pay Facebook or Google or Yelp to try to move up the list. Google has the list. It doesn’t have the humans or the offers. Yelp has the offers but doesn’t have hundreds of millions of people. Facebook has hundreds of millions of people and the “like” system, but not the offers. So, who will get there first? Now you understand the battlefield. Who will win the war?

But he forgets that Yelp’s “offers” don’t scale. Yelp doesn’t have the “offers”. They don’t have a large enough sales force to make it a billion dollar business. It’s Yellow Pages, newspapers, coupon and other local media publishers that own the sales force. But then, like Google, local media publishers don’t have the social elements and interactions. It will be a natural one-two punch for any large company that assembles merchants (i.e. advertising) and consumers meshed in social interaction. I’m willing to bet this will come from directory companies if they move fast enough but I venture the window of opportunity is approximately 12 months before Facebook, Twitter or even Google crack the social local nut.

Update: Greg Sterling analyzes the transaction.

Canpages Acquires Social Recommendation Site GigPark.com, Validates Praized's Model

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”58d245fd7e8f20800dee0ecd3af21f08″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], the second-largest directory publisher in Canada, announced Sunday night the acquisition of GigPark, a self-funded social recommendation site from Toronto, Canada. For Canpages, it’s the second local/social acquisition in two months. The first was Ziplocal in June. This acquisition is the latest in a series of “local media” technology/people acquisitions in the last few months. I noted five other ones in a blog post I wrote two weeks ago.

Interestingly enough, this is the kind of white-label enterprise technology Praized Media is proposing to directory publishers and other local media publishers worldwide. Yellow Pages Group, Canada’s largest directory publisher, is using our Answers module at answers.yellowpages.ca. We’re also currently deploying our real-time activity stream and real-time search technology within a major local portal and our technology stack has generated interest from about a dozen players in Canada, in the US and in Europe. Because of that, as co-founder of Praized Media, I was asked by a few people yesterday what I thought of this acquisition.

1) I am very happy for Pema Hegan and Noah Godfrey for this acquisition. Good work guys! I know how much work goes into building a startup. You’ll see, it’s actually fun working in the directory industry!

2) As a crystal-ball gazer, I am delighted to see directory companies fully embracing social media, even though it’s not our technology they end up using. As I’ve been writing about in the last three years, social media is key to the future of traditional local media firms. The “social” trend in the directory space is not a fad.

3) Reviews and recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg in social/local. The next evolution is “real-time”. Google is thinking about it, Twitter announced last week that they would support geo-location in their API which will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet and Facebook is bound to announce something very soon.

4) The acquisition of technology assets & people by local media publishers validate our core business model of working as technology providers to local media publishers. There is a clear need out there for our product offer and the Praized team is a world-class product & development team in the local/social technology space.

So, what to expect in the next 6 to 12 months?

1) Definitely expect more acquisitions and possibly some mergers. As Kelsey Group analyst Matt Booth said last week during a Kelsey webinar, local media publishers should try to put their hands on interesting companies and assets this year before the economy picks up again next year. The idea is to be ready with new, groundbreaking revenue-generating opportunities when good times come rolling again.

2) Also expect more rapid innovation in the space. Robert Scoble is quickly cluing in to the business potential of local recommendations in a post yesterday where he compared Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yelp. He says:

How will Facebook collect the cash? Well, go to Google and let’s do that sushi search for Boulder, Colorado again. Did you see how that list works? Facebook needs that list. Twitter isn’t even close. But what’s missing? PEOPLE! Imagine if this list, when it’s brought to you by Facebook, shows that #1 has been liked by 14 of your friends? Businesses get that for free. But what don’t they get for free? Yelp’s “offers.” Businesses PAY to “offer” things to customers to try to move up the list. So, if you’re the #3 business on the list, you might say “bring your iPhone in and you’ll get free beer.” Doing that will cost you money, both in the free beer and the advertising you’ll pay Facebook or Google or Yelp to try to move up the list. Google has the list. It doesn’t have the humans or the offers. Yelp has the offers but doesn’t have hundreds of millions of people. Facebook has hundreds of millions of people and the “like” system, but not the offers. So, who will get there first? Now you understand the battlefield. Who will win the war?

But he forgets that Yelp’s “offers” don’t scale. Yelp doesn’t have the “offers”. They don’t have a large enough sales force to make it a billion dollar business. It’s Yellow Pages, newspapers, coupon and other local media publishers that own the sales force. But then, like Google, local media publishers don’t have the social elements and interactions. It will be a natural one-two punch for any large company that assembles merchants (i.e. advertising) and consumers meshed in social interaction. I’m willing to bet this will come from directory companies if they move fast enough but I venture the window of opportunity is approximately 12 months before Facebook, Twitter or even Google crack the social local nut.

Update: Greg Sterling analyzes the transaction.

Firefox 3.5 Now Available: Here's How Geolocation Works

Version 3.5 of the Firefox browser was made available for download this morning. As I write this 1.9 million people had downloaded the new version of the popular Mozilla-based browser. As most people interested in local search and local media know, it now includes a geolocation feature which will play a big role in transforming the web into a more locally-relevant environment. Here’s how it works:

As soon you navigate to a site that’s optimized for the geolocation functionality of FF 3.5 (or you trigger the functionality in a Web page), a bar appears at the top of the page. It tells you that “website name wants to know your location”. You also have two buttons giving you the option to “Share location”, “Don’t share” and a red “x” to close the bar altogether. You can also check a box to “Remember” the site. Finally, the bar suggests you can “learn more” by visiting this page.

firefox 3.5 geolocation test page

Above: the Firefox test page with the geo-location request bar

Below: a close-up on the share/don’t share buttons

firefox 3.5 share geolocation buttons

For example, clicking on the “Where am I?” button in the demo site triggers the apparition of the “share location” bar. If you accept to share your location with the site (through the browser), results are very accurate. In my case (see below), I was geo-located in the correct section of downtown Montreal in the Praized Media offices. Nice!

Geolocation in Firefox

If you want to revoke the permission that you have given to a Web site, you need to navigate back to that Web site and then access the following section in your browser’s functions: Tools – Page Info – Permissions and then change the original permission.

Firefox geolocation permissions

What it means: this is a great implementation of a browser-based geolocation functionality. Easy enough to use, it should catch on. Make sure your web site is using this new functionality and serving info that’s geographically relevant to your users.

Firefox 3.5 Now Available: Here's How Geolocation Works

Version 3.5 of the Firefox browser was made available for download this morning. As I write this 1.9 million people had downloaded the new version of the popular Mozilla-based browser. As most people interested in local search and local media know, it now includes a geolocation feature which will play a big role in transforming the web into a more locally-relevant environment. Here’s how it works:

As soon you navigate to a site that’s optimized for the geolocation functionality of FF 3.5 (or you trigger the functionality in a Web page), a bar appears at the top of the page. It tells you that “website name wants to know your location”. You also have two buttons giving you the option to “Share location”, “Don’t share” and a red “x” to close the bar altogether. You can also check a box to “Remember” the site. Finally, the bar suggests you can “learn more” by visiting this page.

firefox 3.5 geolocation test page

Above: the Firefox test page with the geo-location request bar

Below: a close-up on the share/don’t share buttons

firefox 3.5 share geolocation buttons

For example, clicking on the “Where am I?” button in the demo site triggers the apparition of the “share location” bar. If you accept to share your location with the site (through the browser), results are very accurate. In my case (see below), I was geo-located in the correct section of downtown Montreal in the Praized Media offices. Nice!

Geolocation in Firefox

If you want to revoke the permission that you have given to a Web site, you need to navigate back to that Web site and then access the following section in your browser’s functions: Tools – Page Info – Permissions and then change the original permission.

Firefox geolocation permissions

What it means: this is a great implementation of a browser-based geolocation functionality. Easy enough to use, it should catch on. Make sure your web site is using this new functionality and serving info that’s geographically relevant to your users.

Geolocation in Firefox 3.5: It's Coming!

Firefox 3.5 is on the verge of being released and it will include geolocation. According to this post, “Firefox 3.5 includes a simple JavaScript API that allows you to quickly geo-enable your web application. It allows users to optionally share their location with websites without having to type in a postal code.” Firefox will use local WiFi networks and IP address information to try to guess the user’s location.

How will it work? According to Doug Turner, one of the geo-location feature developers, “This feature is completely opt-in! If you don’t do anything, geolocation is never used. When a web page wants ask you for your location, you get an dialog similar to the one below. If you do nothing, the feature stays off by default. Only if you press “Tell them”, will you send out your location information.”

firefox geolocation-small

What it means: in 35 days, Firefox 3.5 will be available for download (you can find the beta version here) and will provide access to geolocation data. I believe this is the beginning of a brave new local world online and every major site will try to provide a local view for their users. Is your site ready?

Geolocation in Firefox 3.5: It's Coming!

Firefox 3.5 is on the verge of being released and it will include geolocation. According to this post, “Firefox 3.5 includes a simple JavaScript API that allows you to quickly geo-enable your web application. It allows users to optionally share their location with websites without having to type in a postal code.” Firefox will use local WiFi networks and IP address information to try to guess the user’s location.

How will it work? According to Doug Turner, one of the geo-location feature developers, “This feature is completely opt-in! If you don’t do anything, geolocation is never used. When a web page wants ask you for your location, you get an dialog similar to the one below. If you do nothing, the feature stays off by default. Only if you press “Tell them”, will you send out your location information.”

firefox geolocation-small

What it means: in 35 days, Firefox 3.5 will be available for download (you can find the beta version here) and will provide access to geolocation data. I believe this is the beginning of a brave new local world online and every major site will try to provide a local view for their users. Is your site ready?