Fall 2012: Travel & Local Commerce Conferences (including rebate codes!)

I have a busy travel & conference schedule this fall but that’s what happens when there are many “can’t miss” events happening over a short period of time. Can’t complain as we’re probably in the golden age of interactive local commerce. 🙂

First, I’ll be attending and speaking/participating in the next Projet Columbus conference happening in Montreal on October 3. The topic is News 2.0 and you can find more information here. Anyone interested in discussing the future of news organizations and local content should attend.

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Then, I will be in San Francisco the week of October 15 for TwilioCon 2012. If you haven’t been keeping up with new communication technology players, Twilio is a game changer in cloud telephony and it has built an extremely relevant piece of infrastructure for the local commerce world.

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I will also be attending StreetFight Summit 2012in New York on October 30 and 31.  I was at StreetFight Summit West in San Francisco last June and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of topics and speakers. Topic of the conference is “The Next Generation in Hyperlocal”.

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Then, I will be in Europe the week of November 12 to speak at the next Local Social Summit in London. I will probably be traveling to France for meetings in that same trip. If you want to save 25%, you can use my rebate code sebprovencher_lss12 or visit http://lss2012.eventbrite.com/?discount=sebprovencher_lss12

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Finally, I will be at the next BIA/Kelsey conference in Los Angeles the week of December 3. The Interactive Local Media West 2012 conference is one event you absolutely can’t miss if you’re in the local search, local commerce or local media space. Use my personal code to get $200 off the registration fees: ILMWSEB

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Hope to see you at one (or more) of these events. Don’t hesitate to ping me on Twitter or via e-mail (sprovencher AT gmail DOT com) if you’d like to connect in person.

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Can LivingSocial be the default answer to local?

Good interview with LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy in Fortune today. A couple of questions/answers stood out for me:

A few months ago, you said that while Google may be the go-to solution for search and Facebook for social, there isn’t a “default answer” for local. Do you still think that?

Absolutely.

How can LivingSocial be the default answer to local then?

I think particularly on the consumer side, there is a desire for people to be more connected with their city. And people want to support the business down the street. They want to, when they’re walking around, go and know something about their community. They want to brag about their community. ‘This is why my sports team is better than your sports team.’ Those things all matter, and I don’t think there’s been a company able to go and help facilitate that in a broad-based way. I think if we can go and do that, while providing merchants and customers with new revenue streams in a thoughtful, effective way, there is that opportunity to seek that answer for local.

viaWhat’s next for LivingSocial – Fortune Tech.

What it means: From a merchant point of view, there are two sides to “local search”. The first one, known merchant searches, is now controlled by Google. That’s when consumers are looking for a phone number, hours of operations or driving directions of a local merchant they already know. The second one, discovery, is the one that hasn’t been fully cracked yet. Merchant reviews, daily deals, local Q&A, search, recommendations, etc. all contribute to this discovery process but I believe no one fully controls that space. It’s still wide open and huge opportunity. LivingSocial is part of the solution but it’s still a small part, and they’re still far from dominating the “local discovery” space. Lots more work and evolution to the service will be needed.

Pandora Trying to Get Local Ad Dollars

In the New York Times yesterday, we learn about the new “local” strategy for Pandora, the music streaming service.

Pandora’s pitch to advertisers is that its technology can cater to consumers with far greater precision than radio — it can pinpoint listeners by age and sex, ZIP code or even musical taste — and that as it grows, Pandora will effectively be the top station in many cities.

This year, Pandora has had 400 local advertising campaigns across the country. One new client was Planet Honda in Union, N.J., whose president, William Feinstein, said he gave up on terrestrial radio years ago because he felt it cast too wide and expensive a demographic net.

viaPandora Courts Local Advertisers by Reaching a Narrow Audience – NYTimes.com.

What it means: as radio gets atomized (i.e. the atom is now the song), the future of this media goes through mass customization (or mass personalization), this ability to listen to the music you like whenever you feel like it. Pandora provides consumers with that experience. In today’s world, that’s probably a better experience for consumers and it puts Pandora directly against local radio stations and ad dollars. Four hundreds local campaigns is still a very small number but it shows the potential. As always, the challenge will be getting these ad dollars through a local sales force. Expect radio companies to eventually start reselling Pandora ads as part of their Internet package.

Moving On (And Looking For New Opportunities)

Photo: Bernat Casero

After almost six years and a long, thought-out decision process, I’ve decided to leave Needium (i.e. Praized Media Inc.), the company I co-founded in 2006.

What a journey it has been!

  • Creating our original concept and prototype in 2006
  • Signing our first customers in 2007
  • Raising our first venture capital money in 2007
  • Executing our first pivot to enterprise products in 2008 (when the credit crisis struck the world)
  • Constant product innovation between 2006 and 2012
  • Executing our second (and successful!) pivot to Needium in 2010
  • Seeing advertiser and revenue growth in 2011 and 2012!

After beta testing Needium in 2010, we brought in help to structure and scale operations/sales. We now have a dozen resellers (including very large media sales channels) and I feel I can leave in confidence that the company will continue to grow and prosper.

There are many people I’d like to thank for the incredible journey this has been for me:

  • First and foremost, our customers, the people who pay for our products. We built Needium for them. They will be in good hand with the team in place.
  • Our employees (past and present), especially the dev team (most of whom have been with the company since the beginning). Loyal and dedicated.
  • Our investors, who have trusted us since 2007, through hell and high water.
  • And finally, to Sylvain Carle, my co-founder (who is also announcing his resignation) and brother-in-arm. I will miss his daily presence dearly.

My last day will be Friday March 2nd 2012. After that, I will take a few weeks off but, as a next step in my career, I’m looking for international experience. I’d like to work in Europe or in the United States as a senior exec in a media/Internet company (large or small). I bring with me solid experience in product management, business development, Internet strategy, social media and management. You can see my LinkedIn profile here and you can reach me at sprovencher AT gmail.com. If you think I’d be a good addition to your team, don’t hesitate to contact me and we’ll discuss!

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Et maintenant, en français:

Passer à autre chose (et à la recherche de nouveaux défis)

AprĂšs presque six ans de travail et une longue rĂ©flexion, j’ai dĂ©cidĂ© de quitter Needium (i.e. Praized Media inc.), la compagnie que j’ai cofondĂ© en 2006.

Quel beau voyage au cours des 6 derniÚres années!

  • La crĂ©ation de notre concept et prototype original de Praized en 2006
  • La signature de nos premiers clients en 2007
  • La levĂ©e d’une premiĂšre ronde de financement en 2007
  • L’exĂ©cution de notre premier pivot vers le modĂšle “entreprise” en 2008 (lors de la crise mondiale du crĂ©dit)
  • Le dĂ©veloppement constant de produits innovateurs entre 2006 et 2012
  • L’exĂ©cution de notre second pivot (un succĂšs!) vers Needium en 2010
  • La croissance du nombre d’annonceurs et des revenus publicitaires en 2011 et 2012!

AprĂšs les tests bĂȘtas de Needium en 2010, nous avons amenĂ© du renfort pour nous aider Ă  structurer et accĂ©lĂ©rer les opĂ©rations et les ventes. Nous avons dĂ©sormais une douzaine de revendeurs (incluant des grands groupes mĂ©dias) et j’ai le sentiment que je peux quitter avec confiance : la compagnie va continuer Ă  croĂźtre et Ă  prospĂ©rer aprĂšs mon dĂ©part.

Je désire remercier plusieurs personnes qui ont fait partie de cette incroyable expérience:

  • D’abord, nos clients, les gens qui paient pour nos produits. Nous avons bĂąti Needium pour eux et ils seront en bonnes mains avec l’équipe en place.
  • Tous nos employĂ©s (prĂ©sents et passĂ©s), et en particulier l’équipe technique. La plupart d’entre eux sont avec nous depuis le dĂ©but, loyaux et dĂ©vouĂ©s.
  • Nos investisseurs, qui nous ont fait confiance depuis 2007, Ă  travers vents et marĂ©es
  • Et finalement, Syvain Carle, mon cofondateur et frĂšre d’armes (qui dĂ©missionne aussi). Sa prĂ©sence quotidienne va me manquer.

Le vendredi 2 mars 2012 sera ma derniĂšre journĂ©e. AprĂšs cela, je vais prendre quelques semaines de vacances. Pour la prochaine Ă©tape dans ma carriĂšre professionnelle, je cherche une expĂ©rience Ă  l’international. J’aimerais travailler en Europe ou aux États-Unis comme cadre supĂ©rieur dans une compagnie mĂ©dia/Internet (grande ou petite). J’amĂšne avec moi une expĂ©rience solide en gestion de produits, dĂ©veloppement des affaires, stratĂ©gie Internet, mĂ©dias sociaux et gestion gĂ©nĂ©rale. Vous pouvez voir mon profil LinkedIn ici et vous pouvez me contacter Ă  sprovencher arobas gmail.com. N’hĂ©sitez pas Ă  m’écrire si vous croyez que je ferais un bon ajout Ă  votre Ă©quipe!

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.

In San Francisco Next Week for the BIA/Kelsey Conference

Next week, I will be attending the BIA/Kelsey ILM West conference in San Francisco. As always, they’ve put together a great line-up of speakers. Here are the presentations/keynotes I’m most looking forward to:

Day 1: Monday, Dec. 12

  • The opening keynote with Bob Pittman, CEO, Clear Channel Media Holdings. Always interested in hearing from radio station executives, curious about their Internet strategy.
  • The interview with Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital.  I want to know what she thinks of “local” and “local/social”. I am also curious about her point of views on local traditional media’s Internet strategy and execution.
  • The unveiling of the “Wave XV” of the Local Commerce Monitor. Always a lot of exciting data points.
  • The “New Wave of Local Lead Generation” panel
  • The “Facebook Next: Leveraging the Platform for Local” panel

Day 2: Tuesday, Dec. 13

  • The special comScore Research presentation on “The Data on Local Usage”
  • The presentation from Court Cunningham (CEO at Yodle), on “The Top-Level View on Local Sales”
  • The afternoon keynote with Matt Idema, Director of Monetization Product Marketing at Facebook

Day 3: Wednesday, Dec. 14

  • The fireside chats on Local Media Transformation with Mok Oh, Chief Scientist, PayPal and Bo Fishback, CEO and Cofounder, Zaarly
  • The last panel on The Future of SoLoMo

You can get a special $200 rebate if you signup with the discount code SEB

If you want to connect at the event (or in San Francisco), ping me at seb AT needium.com