Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Google Local Info on iPhone vs. Android

May 27, 2010

I just took a look at the same search, “Sushi, San Francisco,” on both the Android EVO and iPhone and here are the screens:

Sorry about the blurry Android shot. These are both mobile Web, not Google’s app.

Notice that on Android, Google is giving you a map and an overall presentation that more closely approximates the PC than the iPhone version. Nothing more than that . . . just thought it was interesting.

Google Algo Changes Drop ‘The Other Shoe’

May 27, 2010

Google’s first big shoe drop was the increasingly common appearance of a map + 7 in response to explicit and implicit local intent queries. That took away many of the “above the fold” SEO slots available to local sites such as yellow pages publishers. However, some of that real estate has been restored in the new Google interface:

Now the “other shoe” may have dropped as algorithm changes that may penalize undistinguished local directory sites start to have an impact. Monsieur Andrew Shotland explains:

Thanks to Vanessa Fox as always for eliciting grains of truth from Google.  At last week’s Google I/O conference Matt Cutts confirmed that there was an algo change at the beginning of May that will likely be affecting sites that generate a lot of long-tail traffic:

”this is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn’t going to be rolled back.”

I have already seen the impact on a couple of large sites that I monitor, as well as on smaller sites.  In the case of the large sites, the traffic has drifted downward, with a couple of extreme drops, and in the case of the smaller sites traffic growth has either flattened or slowed down to barely noticeable.

This shouldn’t surprise anybody in SEO land as unique content, good site architecture and strong backlinking have been the cornerstones of SEO for years.  That said, it appears that this algo change has raised the game to a whole new level.  It used to be that an authoritative domain could add pretty much any content, even duplicated content, it wanted to its site and with a little bit of effort get strong organic traffic. That does not appear to be such an open and shut case anymore.

Andrew already sees this impacting YP publishers and others in the local space that have historically relied on SEO for traffic.

I also had conversation with Matt Cutts at I/O about this same general phenomenon, except I was thinking about and focused on Demand Media, Associated Content and the like. I wasn’t thinking about YP publishers.

If what Andrew is saying is playing out — and he’s observing it apparently — then local ad networks like CityGrid become even more important, as well as improved user experiences (for direct traffic) and brand building.

Social media and mobile also become even more strategic for branding and traffic (although in the case of mobile it’s all incremental right now).

Razorfish Outlook: Local Thoughts

May 26, 2010

Digital agency Razorfish just put out its 2010 global outlook report. Among a broad range of other topics, there was some interesting discussion of local (and mobile) in the document. Here are some largely verbatim excerpts:

We expect more money to go to mobile, particularly in local search. We are watching Google and Apple closely in the mobile space, and intend to test new ad platforms and measurement systems as they come online. 2010 will likely turn out to be the year of testing before mobile really takes off in 2011.

Will local online benefit from the “death of newspapers”?

With the “death” of newspapers, and a rise in location-based technologies, many are curious to see if advertisers will move more of their budgets to local online. Approximately one-third of our clients ask us to run local ads. For most clients these are small percentages of their outlays — they still use digital as a targeted mass media. Local mobile spending is still very small, and was tested by only a few of our clients. Interestingly, although the number of clients participating in local display and local search activities was about equal, local display spending was twice as large as local search spending. This may be due to there being more inventory available in local display, and at lower prices than search, rather than a preference for one or the other. We expect to see this change in the next year as newspapers continue to decline in circulation, the iPad and other devices like it bring newspapers back to life but in digital formats, and smartphone usage increases local search . . .

(emphasis added.)

Gaming, brands and LBS

As gaming and social intertwine with location based services, the opportunity for brands to be relevant and meaningful parts of the interaction are growing. We expect to see growth in this category not only from brands focused on entertainment, but truly all brands who have a product or service that can be an integral part of a gaming, social, or local experience.

As these predictions make clear, 2010 will be about much more than a few hot platforms. While things like mobile and social are expected to make headlines, there are a number of other developments that will grab the attention of marketers and agencies alike. From infrastructure plays like ad verification systems to local online advertising, 2010 is shaping up as a year in which change in online media will make itself felt both in front of and behind the scenes.

While this is educated speculation to some degree it also reflects the perspective of an agency managing client budgets with knowledge of where ad spending is going.

iPad: Then & Now

May 26, 2010

It’s useful to look back at the survey data to see what the initial reactions were from consumers after the iPad announcement. Some of those surveys predicted failure or only modest sales. Here’s what Retrevo survey data showed:

This is a half empty/half full story, with Retrevo playing up the “I’m no longer interested” angle a bit too heavily. I had always believed the iPad would sell after consumers got chance to see and fondle the device. There were also competing surveys indicating high levels of interest among consumers.

Yesterday, however, Retrevo released new data showing a meaningful number of consumers were substituting the iPad for netbook purchases:

These data come out of a larger analysis that reflects the decline (at least in the US) of netbooks.

According to one financial analyst’s estimates iPad production is cranking along at 1M to 1.5M units per month and might go as high as 2.5M units. At that rate, we’re probably looking at iPad sales of nearly 7M by the end of the year, not counting international. However that momentum could be interrupted if super-cheap “good enough” Android tablets hit the market in the second half.

Deal Demographics: Wealthy Use Coupons

May 25, 2010

Seeking to dispel the notion of coupon users as lower income and/or education, Coupons.com and Harris Interactive released some interesting data yesterday on the demographics of coupon usage.

The data are drawn from a consumer survey (n=1,017) conducted in March. Here are the top-level findings:

Income:

  • 61% of respondents with a household income of $100,000 or more have redeemed a coupon in the past six months.
  • 39% in this income bracket have redeemed coupons printed from an online source in the past six months, making them nearly twice as likely to do so as adults with a household income less than $35,000 (21%).
Education:
  • Adults with college degrees are almost twice as likely to have used coupons in the past six months as those who didn’t graduate from high school
  • 77% who have used coupons in the past six months live in metro areas.
Gender:
  • 51% of males have used a coupon in the past six months.
  • 36% of males responded that they even have a designated place to keep their coupons, and they’re just as likely as women to clip and tell: 18% of men have blabbed to a friend about a coupon they found online.
The survey also found that “even if economic conditions improve, eight out of 10 U.S. adults plan to continue to engage in couponing activities, according to the survey findings.”

These data are consistent with many other studies that show the popularity of digital (online, mobile) deals and coupons. The “stigma” associated with paper coupons largely goes away online and in mobile.

RelatedMMA: 21% Now Using ‘M-Commerce’:
Consumers are most interested in using their mobile phones to use discounts or coupons (30%) and to purchase content for their mobile phones (26%). Asians and young adults, ages 25-34 years, stood out as those most interested to use discounts or coupons (38% and 35% respectively were “very interested” or “somewhat interested”).

Koprol & the Rise of the ‘Social Cityguide’

May 25, 2010

Yahoo! bought an Indonesian site you’ve never heard of: Koprol. It didn’t spend a lot I’m sure; the site is young and still in beta.

At a high level the site mimics the functionality of Foursquare. It’s about mobile access to local information and social content (updates, friends’ comments).

It appears to have traction in its home market of Indonesia, but will it succeed in the US and Europe? That’s not clear; but it’s a platform that Yahoo! can use and develop in a few ways. It may extend Yahoo! Local or it may exist independently. We’ll see.

Stepping back, what the acquisition reflects however is the rise of the “social cityguide,” which integrates PC and mobile with Twitter/Facebook-like update streams and brief reviews (thumbs up + “tips”). Yelp in particular will need to contend from a movement toward shorter content and away from long-form reviews.

I can’t remember who it was I was speaking with but the discussion was of Yelp as the equivalent of a blogging platform for its most active members.

Foursquare, Latitude/Buzz, AT&T Buzz, Gowalla, among others are reflective of this new trend toward a marriage of location, mobility, social and quasi-real time communication or exchange. And as the world of “local” becomes increasingly mobile this trend and the competition will intensify.

These social cityguides are potential successors to traditional sites used for entertainment-related lookups. They probably won’t be used for home services but they could take over for restaurants and select other categories. (Facebook, with its impending location launch, Q&A and Like button is lurking in the background.)

I’m not sure how it’s doing but AT&T Interactive is wise to experiment with a site like Buzz.com for several reasons. For a younger, mobile audience a yellow pages site or app will have difficulty competing with Foursquare, Yelp and this new category of social cityguides.

People often ask me what are the big trends I’m seeing in local. Well . . . this is one of them.

AT&T Promoting YPMobile with Contest

May 24, 2010

AT&T is seeking to promote use of its mobile app YPMobile.com with a contest:

Nokia/Navteq to Power Yahoo! Maps

May 24, 2010

One of the aspects of the newly announced strategic partnership between Nokia and Yahoo! is that Yahoo! Maps will now be “powered by Ovi.” Ovi Maps is of course Navteq.

Here’s what the press materials said:

Nokia will be the exclusive, global provider of Yahoo!’s maps and navigation services, integrating Ovi Maps across Yahoo! properties, branded as “powered by Ovi.”

While this is consistent with Yahoo!’s efforts to outsource expensive/complex technology problems to others, in this case it solves a problem for the company. Originally Yahoo!  had been the leader in interactive mapping. Then Google and later Microsoft started pumping millions into developing their mapping products and Yahoo! consciously stopped investing. That was a blow to Yahoo! and Yahoo! Local.

This partnership will give Yahoo! high quality mapping and routing and maybe more. It won’t solve the “street level photography” issue for Yahoo! however. Apparently monetization and advertising is a TBD aspect of the deal.

I’m sure this will also be leveraged by Yahoo! in mobile and local search on mobile devices.

Yell (Finally) Buys UK’s TrustedPlaces

May 20, 2010

UK directory publisher, and parent of Yellowbook in the US, Yell.com  has acquired social directory site and Yelp competitor TrustedPlaces. According to the press release out this morning:

The combination of Yell’s database of over two million businesses with TrustedPlaces’ proven expertise in generating recommendations from local consumers represents a major shake-up of the fast-growing local reviews market.

It will drive strong benefit to Yell’s 399,000 mainly small business advertisers, through generating additional leads and providing a richer online interaction with existing and potential new consumers . . .

Initially, TrustedPlaces reviews will be added to Yell’s business listings, leading to full integration under the Yell.com domain.

The company also expects that the techniques and technologies that have made TrustedPlaces successful in the UK will be shared with other Yell Group operating companies in the US, Spain and Latin America.

Under the deal, Sokratis Papafloratos, chief executive and co-founder of TrustedPlaces, is joining Yell as head of social products in the UK.

This is a smart move by Mark Canon, Matthew Bottomley and company. It complements what they’re doing with Yell.com and provides reach to a younger and more “urban” demographic; it’s sort of like AT&T’s Buzz.com. The difference is that TrustedPlaces is an established site with an existing following.

Among the social directories in the UK, there are three main players: Qype, Yelp and TrustedPlaces. These three sites, I would imagine, had more traction in selected verticals with specific demographics vs. the more traditional Yell. The company will also have the benefit of Sokratis Papafloratos’ thinking about social media across its European properties and in the US to some degree.

I was urging Yell to do this in 2007:

Yell has pushed its digital properties in many interesting directions: products, mobile, classifieds. Though weighted down by regulatory controls in the UK, it also benefits by being the sole owner of the yellow pages brand.

Yell might want to look at acquiring or developing a property like TrustedPlaces to complement its traditional online directory product — if that isn’t an oxymoron.

TrustedPlaces had developed a strong property but was challenged to sell effectively to small businesses. I had this conversation a number of times with Papafloratos over the past couple of years. Most US local startups were in the same position; however emerging local ad networks such as CityGrid help take some pressure off by helping monetize page views and lookups.

As part of new digital-centric momentum and strategy, Yell recently did a major overhaul of its site, introducing several useful new features but most dramatically providing street-level photography to make the site more engaging and challenge Google Maps in greater London and several other UK cities.

TrustedPlaces has (or had) a partnership with the newspaper-owned LocalPeople, a network of “hyper-local” community sites. It isn’t clear whether that will continue beyond any existing contract period. It’s also not entirely clear whether the TrustedPlaces domain and brand will remain after “full integration under the Yell.com domain.” I would hope that the company doesn’t shutter the property.

____

Yell’s CEO and CFO are leaving the company. This is an appropriate time for a leadership change given the larger context of advertising in the UK around Yell and the shift more aggressively into digital.

Yellowbook a Leading Android App

May 18, 2010

I was playing around in the Android Market last night and noticed that Yellowbook’s app is one of the top free apps — period. That was impressive to me.

It’s the top app in the “Shopping” category and a top 10 app (#10) among all free apps.

Even though there are still fewer Android than iPhone users, it has got to be the top mobile platform for the company.

This demonstrates that mobile can be a potentially meaningful driver of direct traffic for YP publishers.

Unsolicited Social Media Advice for Y!

May 18, 2010

I just got off the phone with someone talking about Yahoo! and social media, and that triggered some thoughts.

Yahoo! has been involved with social media for a long time. Yahoo! Groups and Answers are two early examples. There are also Flickr and Delicious and MyWeb (shuttered). And Yahoo! Local was one of the most “robust” user-generated local review sites in the pre-Yelp era. There was also the “smart in-box” Y! Mail strategy.

Yahoo! has thus enjoyed successes as well as failures and, in my view, seen some spectacular missed opportunities.

For example, back in 2006 I suggested that Yahoo! buy a blogging platform like WordPress or Six Apart. The company offered the relatively awkward Yahoo! 360 at the time. That service was subsequently shut down. And there are other examples of Yahoo! services shuttered before their time or insufficiently supported and emphasized (Yahoo! Fire Eagle is one of those, Neighbors is another).

Putting aside the rumored attempt to buy Foursquare, Yahoo! is planning on building out its social media assets further and reportedly going to be rolling out some new things in the coming months.

I think one potential acquisition the company should consider is Multiply. Originally a social network with a rich set of tools and capabilities, the site has become primarily a media sharing and storage site for adults/parents. Kind of an anti-Facebook, it would be a solid asset that Yahoo! could use and integrate with Flickr — and Shine, as well as other properties, I suspect.

Multiply has raised about $27 million in funding and could be acquired probably for under $100 million. Clicker is another company that Yahoo! should take a close look at because it’s social and cross-platform. And in some ways it’s a model of what Yahoo!’s social media strategy should be: a useful tool or content site, with community integrated into its fabric. RedBeacon would be yet another one. But direct involvement with lead-gen might not be where Yahoo! wants to go with its local strategy.

If Yahoo! hadn’t backed away somewhat from Shopping I’d also argue the site ought to get deeper into social shopping — a place where it was an early pioneer with the now dead Yahoo! Shoposphere. This sort of thing appeals to women in particular and is a very fertile area for promotions and advertising.

I’ll add one more: Yahoo! should look very seriously at the just-launched local coupon aggregator DealMap from Center’d. CEO Jennifer Dulski was GM of Local, as well as occupying other roles at Yahoo! before she left. She’d probably be ambivalent about going back but it would be a great asset for Yahoo! both in Shopping and Local.

Finally, in addition to any new acquisitions or product offerings, the company needs to exploit its existing assets. That includes renewed attention to Local (extending into mobile) and better exploitation of Answers in mobile.

Related: Yahoo! announced the acquisition of Associated Content. Below is the press release:

Yahoo! to Acquire Associated Content

Extending Leadership in Content With the Addition of 380,000 Contributors

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Associated Content Inc. This strategic move extends Yahoo’s ability to provide high quality, personally relevant content for the benefit of more than 600 million users as well as tens of thousands of advertisers. As Yahoo! enhances its social, mobile, local, and media offerings, the acquisition of Associated Content reinforces the company’s longstanding promise to offer the best of the Web — by combining Associated Content’s approximately 380,000 contributors who provide rich and varied content on a broad array of passion points, with Yahoo’s leadership in partnering with established content brands and the award-winning team of editors and experts from Yahoo!.

“Combining our world-class editorial team with Associated Content’s makes this a game-changer,” said Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo! Inc. “Together, we’ll create more content around what we know our users care about, and open up new and creative avenues for advertisers to engage with consumers across our network. These are important aspects of building engaging consumer experiences on Yahoo!, and one of the reasons why we’re one of the most visited destinations online.”

“The Associated Content team and our 380,000 contributors are looking forward to joining Yahoo! and to the opportunities that being part of a global Internet brand presents,” said Luke Beatty, Associated Content founder and president. “Combining our crowd sourced content with Yahoo!’s distribution, world class editorial team and online marketing leadership will accelerate our growth as we continue to leverage our best-of-breed platform to deliver high quality compelling content on more than 60,000 topics.”

For advertisers, this deal will expand Yahoo! into more topic areas and real-time content generation. The combination promises to offer advertisers even more opportunities to engage groups of passionate consumers in ways they will find uniquely appealing to their interests and tastes. Having insight into user intent through its leading search products enables Yahoo! to identify topics important to advertisers and users. Yahoo! plans to use Associated Content to create content around those topics and leverage Associated Content to contribute content to existing media properties. Associated Content also provides more opportunities for Yahoo! to partner and collaborate with publishers who can help the company shape the tremendous variety of content coming in, into something bespoke and even more engaging.

While current Associated Content content is U.S.-centric, Yahoo! expects to scale the platform globally.

Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2004. Associated Content receives more than 16 million unique users per month (comScore) and the editorial staff reviews more than 50,000 pieces of content per month, including articles, images, audio and video.

Yahoo! expects to complete this acquisition in the third quarter of 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Incredible, Evo and the iPhone

May 17, 2010

Once again I’m facing a mobile phone dilemma. Although a Sprint customer for over 10 years I’m perpetually flirting with leaving, either for the iPhone or cheaper comparable service from T-Mobile.

I bought the Pre, buying the hype, only to discover its profound limitations as an Internet device — especially compared to the iPhone. I’ve also owned or extensively tested several Android phones: the HTC Magic/MyTouch3G, the Nexus One and, now, the HTC Incredible.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already used the N1, or potentially because I now have an iPad, but I’m unimpressed by the Incredible. That’s right; I may be the only one.

I like the N1 better. It felt more substantial. I also find I’m not a fan of the HTC “Sense” interface. And it’s no longer as “fun” to browse the Internet on a smartphone after the iPad.

Android devices have gotten better and better but they still don’t trump the iPhone in my view for overall ease of use and functionality. There are a number of things that are nicer on Android than the iPhone but the “fit and finish” and certain aspects of the UI and general usability don’t measure up. As one example, the HTC Android keyboard remains weak by comparison.

What I’d really like is an iPhone on Sprint (or Verizon). But it doesn’t appear that one will be forthcoming for some time (maybe until 2012). Regardless of the existence of an exclusive deal this is a  bonehead move for Apple. Verizon is selling Droids two for one right now.

I’m now looking at the Evo (the first 4G phone) from Sprint. The additional speed would be a benefit but most actual speeds will not reach true 4G. If I’m honest I feel a sense of disappointment when I consider extending my contract for another two years for this device. But I don’t want to switch to AT&T.

Marchex Launches PPCall ‘Exchange’

May 11, 2010

Marchex has gone public with a “Pay-for-Call Exchange,” according to a press release out this morning:

The Marchex Pay-For-Call Exchange combines a robust telephony platform with campaign creation expertise and call filtering technologies to create, manage and optimize advertiser campaigns across more than 50 publisher partners in online, offline and mobile media. Additionally, advertisers have access to rich call analytics and customer intelligence, including caller geography and call recordings.

Advertisers that have joined Marchex’s Pay-For-Call Exchange have experienced significant ROI, including an average call conversion ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for many advertisers, with some seeing as high as 50 percent; typical consumer engagement on the phone averages more than eight minutes, with certain categories and advertisers experiencing up to 12 minutes; and typical advertiser budget increases have averaged 200 percent of their initial commitment. Additionally, companies that have joined Marchex’s Pay-For-Call Exchange have been able to monetize their inventory more effectively.

While still in its relative infancy, Marchex has built a significant, growing customer and partner base for its Pay-For-Call Exchange, including leading digital agencies such as Razorfish, one of the largest interactive marketing and technology companies in the world; ADT, the world’s largest electronic security company; PRIMEDIA, a provider of online, print and mobile platforms that provide real estate rental listings; and Jingle Networks, the nation’s leading advertiser-supported directory assistance service at 1-800-FREE-411.

According to a brief discussion I had with Marchex’s COO Pete Christothoulou:

  • Marchex is acting as an agency in some respects and a network in others
  • The company is buying media on behalf of advertisers offline (including DRTV), online and in mobile
  • Marchex collaborates with advertisers on the creative
  • The company is highly conscious of the “bad calls” problem with PPCall and does “call filtering” and ad buys that seek to maximize good calls

The program has been running in a private beta for awhile. Look again at the conversion data cited in the release:

[A]n average call conversion ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for many advertisers, with some seeing as high as 50 percent; typical consumer engagement on the phone averages more than eight minutes, with certain categories and advertisers experiencing up to 12 minutes . . .

Impressive.

Jingle Networks, cited in the release, had made an effort to create a version of this at one point. But to my knowledge this is a unique marketplace. I asked Christothoulou about the types of advertisers utilizing the service. He said that currently it’s mostly national advertisers and large advertisers targeting specific markets.

PPCall has never lived up to the early hype (that I helped create) but a combination of factors, including more aggressive use of PPCall in traditional media and the rise of mobile, may mean that it finally gets the traction among advertisers that its value proposition has always promised.

The DealMap: ‘CityGrid for Local Deals’

May 11, 2010

The friendly folks behind unassuming local-semantic search site Center’d have just launched what is probably the definitive local deal site on the Internet, The Dealmap. I wrote about it in a preliminary way in March after a brief discussion with Center’d CEO Jennifer Dulski.

Now there’s more detail out and the site has gone live.

Here are some quick facts gleaned from the press release:

  • The DealMap is available in the US and UK (the heatmap above indicates coverage areas)
  • There are daily deal emails and deal alerts via Twitter in more than 20 cities (all the individual group buying sites are here, and Foursquare)
  • Deals are coming from a wide range of sources: partner feeds, other coupon/deal sites, traditional media sites, directly from businesses and from users (there are game dynamics to promote the last of these)
  • Dealmap will also launch an iPhone application (Android and RIM too)

There’s also an API, which means that other publishers and developers can access all this content as well. This is, essentially, CityGrid for deals.

The DealMap site is a destination but also a hub that sits in the center of a distribution network that includes a range of partners (which will undoubtedly grow quickly) and sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The DealMap aims to deliver deals content to users in whatever way or form they prefer to receive it: via search/browse functionality on the site itself, through Twitter or Facebook or via email. You can see deals on a map (hence the name) or in list form. Users can also browse by deal category (e.g., restaurants, shopping) or type (e.g., expires soon, 50% off, kid-friendly):

Beyond compiling all this content through crawling and business development, The DealMap is trying to capture “hard to find” deals — the kind that appear in a local store window but never get advertised anywhere else. They’re trying to get users and businesses to upload these directly (via mobile devices for example) and are employing “game dynamics” (like Foursquare) to create incentives to do so:

At certain point levels there will be tangible rewards for users, like a traditional loyalty program, redeemable for (what else) discount coupons and offers at restaurants and other local businesses.

Sites like Yipit are seeking to do a version of this by collecting the content of group buying sites and pushing aggregated offers via email. Search engine Ask has also tried to do something similar and comprehensive with its “Ask deals” site. However The DealMap combines both approaches and seeks to go further with the user-submitted deals information (a la the early days of RetailMeNot).

A subtle but important point is that users can search for local deals and find them. Typically there’s not enough content on any given site enable search and make it meaningful.

Users can click through to the originating site or source or see more information on a “deals profile” page on The DealMap:

The breadth of content and functionality on this site are impressive. Yet the API strategy may be what makes this site and turns The DealMap into the most valuable component of Center’d’s business.

CEO Jennifer Dulski said that there were probably 100 sites that The DealMap was drawing upon, roughly 80% of which were some flavor of group buying sites. However use of The DealMap’s API could grow the number of sites (online and in mobile) that offer local deals in dramatic fashion. We’ll see how many local publishers jump on board.

The business model here is an affiliate revenue share. And coupons/deals is arguably the one area — even more than search marketing — where advertising is truly content, to use the online cliche.

Dulski and her team have created something in this site and strategy that should be enormously successful for all involved.

Two years ago I asked “Where Is the Coupon Destination?“:

From my point of view the deals/coupons segment is ripe for a next phase of development. There are numerous online competitors but, mysteriously, no one has really gotten it right. Part of the reason for that is that it’s challenging to get sufficient inventory to satisfy a broad range of consumer needs/use cases in a “search” context.

There’s also the forgetting to bring the coupons (mobile can help) and the stigma (for some) associated with using coupons.

Offline coupon clipping behavior is an interesting mix of both “search” and “discovery.” People actively look through circulars and newspaper/direct mail coupons. However they don’t necessarily know what they’ll find or what may be on sale. So there’s a bit of serendipity along with the directional behavior. I’m looking for coupons for things that I normally buy or that I need, but occasionally a coupon will prompt me to try something new or different.

I’m not sure that a pure search model or an “Oodle for coupons” is right. There’s some creative mix of community, search, discovery and content aggregation needed to make a coupon or deals destination work online. And the branding or value proposition shouldn’t be around “coupons,” which is too pedestrian.

Instead, branding should probably be around deals and discounts (for breadth). It should also start off small, like an insiders network. This is the way that Craigslist essentially began in San Francisco and built slowly over time.

With The DealMap I feel like that site has finally arrived.

Tomorrow: Evolution of the YP Product

May 10, 2010

Why did AT&T shift away from a brand (“yellowpages.com”) that the company paid handsomely for ($100M?) several years ago? What types of “vertical” content is the company building into its consumer sites?

These and many other questions I will endeavor to explore tomorrow on a free webinar called The Evolution of Local Discovery.”

Join me, Greg Isaacs and Todd Rose from AT&T Interactive for a discussion of the evolution of the yellow pages. I’ll be providing data and commentary on the market in general and AT&T will discuss YP.com and Buzz and some of its thinking behind where the company is going with its consumer offering. AT&T is moving with the market and trying to diversify traffic sources and consumer offerings. It’s fascinating to watch.

If you’d like to hear more and ask questions, listen in on the free session (and get my slides) — tomorrow at 1 Eastern, 10 Pacific.

kgb Launches Multi-Country Deals Site

May 10, 2010

kgb, which offers the SMS-based mobile Q&A service, has just launched a group-buying site at kgbdeals.com. I’ve discovered that there may be as many as 90 to 100 sites that are doing some version of “groupoing” now — with more to come undoubtedly.

kgb competitor ChaCha also offers couponing but only in a single market for now. By contrast, kgb has leveraged its international reach and is doing this across several non-US markets:

Undoubtedly these deals will also be pushed into mobile and via the “traditional” kgb service.

Has the iPad Already Sold 2 Million?

May 10, 2010

Chitika, which correctly estimated that 1 million iPads had been sold before Apple formally announced the milestone (earlier this month), shut off its iPad tracker several days ago at 1.95 million iPads.

If these figures are accurate it’s semi-amazing that only a couple of weeks after the one million announcement Apple would have doubled sales.

Webinar Tues: ‘Evolution of Local Discovery’

May 8, 2010

Through Internet2Go, I’ll be doing a webinar with AT&T Interactive on the “Evolution of Local Discovery.” It’s an expanded yet more intimate version of the session we did at AD:TECH a few weeks ago.

I’ll be trying to put together the big picture and talking about the movement from print to online to mobile. I’ll also be discussing some of the new LBS services and the “geotagging of everything.”

The webinar is free at will take place at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific on Tuesday, May 11.

For more information or to register go here.

Foursquare Adds ‘Like’ Button to Profiles

May 7, 2010

Foursquare is the latest to integrate the Like button from Facebook:

Beyond Yelp and YPG in Canada, and now Foursquare, who else in local is using Like?

Facebook Poised to Enter LBS Game

May 7, 2010

At the F8 Facebook developer event many people expected the company to announce its long-awaited location feature. It didn’t happen. But, according to AdAge, location is imminent for Facebook and marketers are already on board:

Facebook is preparing to launch location-based status updates for its users. But the social network is also planning to offer it to marketers, including McDonald’s.

As early as this month, the social-networking site will give users the ability to post their location within a status update. McDonald’s, through digital agency Tribal DDB, Chicago, is building an app with Facebook would allow users to check in at one of its restaurants and have a featured product appear in the post, such as an Angus Quarter Pounder, say executives close to the deal.

The launch of the feature is complicated to some degree by Facebook’s existing PR problems over privacy. However, let’s assume that those subside. Furthermore, “checking in” is entirely “affirmative” and voluntary.

Beyond the check-in capability (and potential advertising angle) it’s not clear how location will manifest on Facebook (online or in mobile). But let’s assume that it will look something like this:

The AdAge article and others wonder aloud (as is now an almost perfunctory exercise) . . . is this a Foursquare or Gowalla “killer”? I would say no.

I look at the whole thing somewhat differently. I would see this as the potential mainstreaming of check-ins.

We’ll obviously have to wait and see what shows up later this month (apparently). But Facebook will likely broaden the market and help expose more people to LBS and check-ins. And the McDonald’s angle is very interesting.

Couponing, deals and mobile loyalty is becoming a huge area of mobile marketing and Facebook may further expand it.

In February, I wondered over at Internet2Go how long it would be before Facebook became a mobile ad network (with its 100 million active mobile users). This could be the beginning — and it could become more “effective” than anything Facebook is doing with display online.

Update: AdAge is further reporting that McDonald’s “will be one of many marketers in on the ground floor and will be integrated into the platform sometime after Facebook turns on the feature for consumers.” These “ground floor” marketers apparently have been “stymied by the lack of scale with services such as Foursquare, Loopt, Gowalla and MyTown” and are eager to get into the LBS game with Facebook’s greater reach and scale.

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Over the past 24 hours there have been several posts about the relative sizes of Foursquare (1 million plus), MyTown (2 million) and Google Latitude (now apparently 3 million users). Google’s Steve Lee also “hinted” to the Web 2.0 crowd apparently that check-ins were on the way for Latitude.

All of this in the aggregate makes the check-in phenomenon a more mainstream part of the local-mobile experience.


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