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.

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.

Android Rapidly Gaining Mobile OS Market Shares

From a post on GigaOM this morning:

(…) Nielsen said among recent acquirers of smartphones in the last six months through August, Android was the top platform in the U.S. with 32 percent of new purchases, followed by the iPhone and Research In Motion’s Blackberry platform, tied at about 25 percent.

When looking at overall market share, RIM remains on top with 31 percent, trailed by the iPhone at 28 percent and Android at 19 percent. But the race continues to tighten with RIM maintaining a slide from 37 percent in February. The iPhone has remained largely stable during that period, while Android market share is up from 8 percent in February.

What it means: as the GigaOM article says, “it’s hard to see how the Android momentum will subside.” I’ve started using an entry-level Android-powered tablet recently and I find it extremely useful. I’ll probably upgrade to an Archos 101 when it comes out in a couple of weeks. I’m  also getting “Android smart phone” envy and I’m tempted to buy a Samsung Galaxy. Expect Android to become the leading operating system for both smart phones and tablets within 12-18 months and make sure you’re building an application for that platform as well.

Is There A Mobile-Only Yellow Pages Company in Our Future?

YellowPages.com.au mobile advert

Flickr picture by Dale Gillard

The Yellow Pages Association just released new ComScore data regarding business directories access on mobile. Excerpt from the press release:

The number of mobile subscribers accessing business directories on a mobile phone increased 14 percent year-over-year to 17.3 million users in March 2010, extending the reach of Internet Yellow Pages beyond the personal computer. This increase outpaces 10 percent growth in the number of mobile media users who browsed the mobile web, used applications or downloaded content during the same time period.

US Mobile Local Audience

In addition, the data shows that while mobile browsing (10.8 million subscribers with 21% year-over-year growth) is still the most popular way to access business directories on mobile, applications are used by 4.2 million subscribers and are showing a 42% year-over-year growth. SMS is the other popular method.

Mobile Browser vs. App Access

What I think is the most exciting news in the release is the demographic profile of those users. “58 percent of those who access Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device are 34 or younger.”

What it means: following my last blog post about GPS inside mobile devices (see Four out of Five Cell Phones to Integrate GPS by End of 2011), the rise of smart phones, the future explosion of Android phones, and the interesting demographics of mobile business directories users, I have to ask: can mobile become the platform of choice for a directory publisher in the future? What would it take? The survey says “The number of people accessing Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device at least once per week increased more than 16 percent year over year to nearly five million in March 2010.” That’s good but I think the directory industry needs to build applications that would be used multiple times per day in order to build a scalable and successful mobile-only business. It’s not impossible but the industry needs to innovate and right now, that’s not happening. Should a big directoy publisher buy Foursquare or Gowalla?

Four out of Five Cell Phones to Integrate GPS by End of 2011

New data from iSuppli:

With cell phones increasingly becoming the nexus of the burgeoning markets for navigation and Location Based Services (LBS), the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in such platforms is set to explode during the coming years, according to iSuppli Corp.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, 79.9 percent of cell phones shipped—amounting to 318.3 million units—will incorporate GPS functionality, up from 56.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009—or 187.8 million units—iSuppli predicts. (…)

iSuppli also sees an increased penetration of embedded GPS in a range of consumer and compute electronic devices by 2014. For example, iSuppli estimates that 18 percent of laptops and 42 percent of portable handheld video game players will have embedded GPS in 2014.

via Four out of Five Cell Phones to Integrate GPS by End of 2011. (found via Laurent_Local)

What it means: this massive deployment of geo-location technology will create new business opportunities that don’t even exist today. Every device and application will be able to have a “local” flavor, a local angle. And I’m fairly convinced people will feel “local” is more relevant.

Are Newspapers Outsourcing Core Features to Foursquare?

Megan Garber from the Nieman Journalism Lab explains in details how the Wall Street Journal uses Foursquare to offer geo-localized news:

[The Wall Street Journal] has also been making regular use of the Tips function of Foursquare, which allows users to send short, location based updates — including links — to their followers. The posts range from the food-recommendation stuff that’s a common component of Tips (“@Tournesol: The distinctively French brunches here feature croques madames and monsieurs and steak frites. After dining, check out the Manhattan skyline in Gantry State Park”) to more serious, newsy fare

via Location, location, etc: What does the WSJ’s Foursquare check-in say about the future of location in news? » Nieman Journalism Lab.

What it means: That’s a very nice implementation of geolocalized content within Foursquare. You can see more examples in the article. After reading it, something was bothering me (the same way the Facebook “Like” button bugged me) and I finally figured it out. I left the following comment in the Nieman blog: “what Foursquare is doing, newspapers could do themselves. It’s all about structured data. Most newspaper organizations have structured their content on topics/keywords/subjects but they forgot to structure it on geographical information (places, businesses, points-of-interest, neighborhoods, etc.). As soon as you have this 3D view of your content (vertical + local), you can syndicate it in a multitude of ways.”

We live in a fragmented/atomized Web now. We have atomized content, business models, functionalities, APIs. The smart internet companies are atomizing both content AND features/functionalities.  They become both media companies and technology providers. Their end goal is becoming a media. They use their technology to reach their end goal. That’s a very smart strategy. As a potential partner of these smart internet startups, you need to ask yourself if these functionalities are core business to you or not. If they are, DO NOT OUTSOURCE THEM to another media company! Do partner for content distribution though.

The Web is becoming more and more local. Newspapers should own the expertise of geo-localizing their content, displaying it that way within their mobile apps (or Web site) and then syndicating it to partners like Foursquare. It’s core business.