BIA/Kelsey ILM West 2012 Conference: A Preview

Image

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

Advertisements

“Google+ is all about protecting its search business” – Robert Scoble

Commenting on a recent Google+ story on Techcrunch, Robert Scoble wrote : “I believe Google+ is all about protecting its search business. It is scared that Facebook is going to become a search engine. It already sort of is. A lot of people are moving behaviors over to Facebook that they used to do in search. Instead of Googling “sushi san francisco” we’ll just ask our friends “hey, where’s the best sushi in San Francisco.”

What it means: Looking at this through the filter of the consumer purchase decision process (see below), this is extremely significant. By expressing needs/problems in social media and having people/companies come to them with solutions, consumers bypass “search” and go straight to purchase. This is a serious threat to companies like Google who have built a huge ad business based on search.

Google Canada’s Free Website and Domain Name: Read the Fine Print

Exciting news in the Canadian market a few days ago. Google announced they would offer Canadian small businesses (SMBs) a free website and .CA domain name via a program called Canada Get Your Business Online.

Excerpts from the release:

To help Canadian small businesses overcome the obstacles that are preventing them from getting online and fuelling Canada’s digital economy, Google is launching a new program called Canada Get Your Business Online that will provide free websites with a .ca domain, and free advice for businesses across Canada. (…) Google estimates that at least 1.2 million Canadian small businesses don’t have websites. (…) To learn more about the Canada Get Your Business Online program visit www.gybo.ca.

Google understands that if small merchants don’t have a website, they can’t really buy AdWords, Google’s core pay-for-performance advertising model. I thought to myself, what a great idea! An entry website is a commodity. By bundling it with a domain name and offering everything for free, you lock-in the small business advertiser and you are able to upsell them AdWords and Google Tags. For this purpose, they partnered with Yola, a free website-building technology provider.

In productizing Needium, I’ve been exploring entry-level website solutions in the last few weeks. We’ve found that SMBs who have a website perform better in social media. The site serves as the permanent anchor, where all your business information resides and where consumers coming from social media can read more about you and evaluate if you’re “real” or not.

It is with great hope I started creating a test Website on www.gybo.ca but I quickly became disenchanted.

After creating an account, you get to a page that offers you to register your free .ca domain name.

I went through the various steps to find an available domain name and you eventually get to a registration screen that asks you for credit card information “required to verify your identity”. That makes sense.

I was really surprised to read the following fine print on the page though: “This domain is completely free for the first year. Renewals start at C$38.95”.

Hmmmm… .CA domain names are usually $15 per year. That renewal price seems extremely expensive. Maybe you can register free the domain name and eventually transfer it to a cheaper domain name registrar? In the terms, Yola adds “Free .ca and .co.uk domains awarded through our Google partnership are not eligible for transfer or pointing.”

So, it looks like your “free” domain name is really just free the first year and it’s not transferable. Doesn’t sound like a good deal anymore, does it? This really disappointed me. I thought Google had made a move to really change the Canadian SMB landscape by offering a permanently free intro website and domain name. After all, they’ve made other game changing moves in the past and I was expecting the same. But not this time. So, caveat emptor.

Lior Ron: Google Hotpot is About Collecting Relevancy Signals

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.

2010's Most Important Events in Local/Social

Like last year, Mike Blumenthal asked me for my thoughts on what were the most important events in “local” in 2010. I obliged and Mike put together a blog post with my answers. In a nutshell, they are:

  1. The launch of Twitter Places
  2. Foursquare’s growth
  3. Facebook launches Places
  4. The launch of the iPad
  5. The rise of Groupon and the explosion of the daily offers space
  6. Groupon rejects Google’s purchase offer

Head up to Mike’s blog to read the rest of my post.

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.

Google: Cracking the Local Ad Market is the Biggest Priority

Google’s failed attempt to purchase fast-growing Web coupon provider Groupon has not deterred the Internet search giant from the local advertising market. In fact, Susan Wojcicki, a Google senior vice president who oversees its advertising business, said that cracking the local ad market is the her biggest priority.

“That is my biggest focus,” said Ms. Wojcicki, one of Google’s early employees who was interviewed during the D: Dive Into Mobile event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. “How can we enable you, when you’re walking around, to find out the best local offers around? As an advertiser, how can I find out if someone saw my ad and went to a store? The local market is a huge market, we’ve always wanted to be in it.”

via Google Executive Says Local Advertising Is Top Focus – Digits – WSJ.

What it means: if anyone had any doubts about the importance of local for Google…