Archive for the ‘User-generated content’ Category

AOL Sells Bebo: What a Screw Up

June 16, 2010

In a massive case of “what were they thinking” AOL bought social networking site Bebo for $850 million; and in a case of “what are they thinking now,” the company has sold it, reportedly, for around $10 million to a hedge fund: Criterion Capital Partners.

It was stupid for AOL to pay that much in the first place and maybe naive to think that it could take on Facebook. But now, on the other end, it’s probably misguided to get rid of the site for that little.

I don’t know what the headcount and other costs associated with Bebo are. But Facebook’s privacy flap has created an opening for others to exploit. Alternatively the site could be reinvented and/or the platform could be used in various ways (a la Yahoo-Facebook) across AOL properties perhaps.

Bebo could reposition as a media-sharing site for parents or families as Multiply has tried to do. Or it could be reinvented as a mobile service. The point is there are probably several ways, now that AOL wrote off its value, to use Bebo.

I doubt the hedge fund will do much with the site. A year or so from now they’ll flip it or be compelled to shutter it entirely.

Twitter Places: Wheat/Chaff

June 15, 2010

Twitter yesterday announced Places — Tweets associated with a specific location:

Starting today, you can tag Tweets with specific places, including all World Cup stadiums in South Africa, and create new Twitter Places. You can also click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. Try it out during the next match—you will be able to see Tweets coming from the stadium.

What’s new here is the local precision and the fact that all tagged Tweets about a place (Disneyland, Louvre, The Vatican, Angkor Wat, Tommy’s Burgers, etc.) will have a dedicated page or pages. Users will also be able to search for those Tweets much more easily than before.

In addition, Twitter Places incorporates Foursquare and Gowalla check-in information. There will also be an API so third parties can take the local Tweets and use them on their sites or build apps/tools around the content.

TomTom and Localeze are data partners, providing place and business data on a global basis (65 countries). TomTom owns TeleAtlas.

Matt McGee at SEL offers some thoughts on how this might challenge Google Places. However Google might incorporate Tweets from the API into Google Places as well.

In a presentation I did — The Revolution Will Be Geotagged — I argued that we’ve gone from a paucity of local data to a deluge. The challenge now is organizing and filtering all the location-based information coming out. That will be the challenge here too, with Twitter Places.

Make no mistake, this is a major move for Twitter and potentially one that will define its “next phase of growth.” The information generated could well be of high value to users; but there will still be a great deal of garbage in the stream as well.

There will be the “fun” and informative real-time posts associated with a Place (“I’m here,” “Me too,” “Whoa, check that out”). And then there will be what we might call “utility content” — tips, reviews, helpful information that’s more evergreen. Indexing, preserving and presenting that evergreen information is what I’m talking about.

“You know what I’m sayin'”?

Third parties may actually be in a much better position than Twitter itself to organize and filter the flood of new LBS Tweets that will be generated.

Matt McGee, crediting Steve Espinoza, discusses the notion of dedicated page for locations (a la Google Places) that offers an opportunity for SMBs (and others) to claim listings and presents a structured profile. I agree. That will undoubtedly come. Either Twitter will do it itself or somebody else will. That approach could address the wheat/chaff issue.

As Steve argues in the reverenced post, it then  presents monetization scenarios for Twitter of various sorts beyond Promoted Tweets. Yet if users start to conduct local searches on Twitter because the information about locations and businesses is getting better and more useful, Promoted Tweets become very interesting in that context as well.

How all this plays out remains to be seen of course. But I regard this evolution of location on Twitter as a potentially very significant development. It will help to create a new “culture” and set of behaviors around location among Twitter users.

Twitter’s COO Dick Costello recently said that the site sees 190 million users per month (globally), who are posting 65 million Tweets daily. That makes Twitter and its UGC “firehose” a potential force to be reckoned with in local.

Yelp & Foursquare: Utility vs. Hipster Chic

June 13, 2010

I told myself this morning I wasn’t going to write any blog posts to work on a couple of client deliverables. But I can’t resist commenting on a Robert Scoble post: “Foursquare’s Yelp problem.”

Scoble makes a number of points about Yelp and Foursquare and then serves up a set of recommendations to the latter. Here’s what he says about Yelp’s recent adoption of badges:

Yelp has now copied the checkin gesture that Foursquare introduced to us all and also they added badges of their own. I already am the baron of my favorite Mexican restaurant in Half Moon Bay.

This copying behavior demonstrates to me that Yelp is definitely jealous of the attention Foursquare is getting and isn’t able to innovate on its own . . .

Yelp is jealous of Foursquare’s serendipity and gaming. But they haven’t nailed that yet. I think that’s why Foursquare’s CEO, Dennis Crowley, says that Yelp hasn’t copied the right features yet. But he’s gotta be nervous that they’ll figure it out in a couple of more months and totally take away Foursquare’s air supply.

I’m not going to discuss Scoble’s recommendations to Foursquare, which just got some new funding. But I want to offer an alternative analysis.

I don’t think, as Scoble argues, that “Yelp is jealous of Foursquare’s serendipity and gaming.” Yelp was in Foursquare’s position (the cool/hot upstart) for several years. Foursquare has usurped that position and the associated mindshare. Foursquare is the darling of the blognescenti right now.

Yelp is not threatened by geo-social gaming per se. The perceived Foursquare threat to Yelp comes from the possibility that some of Yelp’s top review writers and cool cats might be siphoned off by the newer and shinier service. In other words, the concern is that Foursquare might look like the “hipper” party. I think that’s what Yelp is partly trying to guard against with its recent moves, adopting check-ins and badges, which seek to retain those enamored by Foursquare and its features.

I also don’t think Yelp is “unable to innovate” but I do agree with Scoble that the extent of the imitation is somewhat disappointing.

Yelp is a truly mainstream site today with something around 32 million uniques. Foursquare by comparison is not (perhaps yet), with just over 2 million users:

One paradox at the heart of Foursquare is that the features that have driven success to date are potential barriers to mainstream adoption. Here’s what I wrote several months ago in a client only report on LBS and geo-social games:

Geo-social gaming services must strike a balance between their competitive and utilitarian aspects in order to gain broad appeal. The “Mayor” concept in Foursquare provides a case in point. It generates engagement and fun as participants compete to be the Mayor, the most frequent check-in at popular venues.

While this drives engagement among the most committed users it could discourage casual users from participating. However, Foursquare and its peers need these more casual users in order to go mainstream; they need people to use these apps in the same way people now use Yelp or Citysearch or a directory site – for local recommendations.

You may or may not agree with that perspective. I’ll offer a kind of ironic rejoinder to that view: Yelp, by adopting check-ins and badges, is now exposing a much larger audience to these game concepts and thereby potentially helping to mainstream them. By copying Foursquare, Yelp could be helping the site ultimately by “acculturating” people to LBS gaming.

Yelp and Foursquare share monetization challenges. Yet Yelp now has a very large telephone sales channel that it uses to sell ads. One could argue, however, that well-reviewed SMBs on Yelp don’t need to advertise — a fundamental problem. Yelp has answers for that point of view of course.

For its part, Foursquare has been busy working with traditional media companies (Bravo TV, Conde Nast, etc.) and brands but it faces some obstacles in generating SMB ad dollars.

In the first Foursquare marketer survey (n=125 SMBs currently using Foursquare to promote themselves), which I collaborated on, this was the response to the “would you pay for it?” question:

Only 10.4% said they were willing to pay for services on Foursquare. If push were to come to shove that could change; however the slide above illustrates the resistance to paid Foursquare advertising at the SMB level.

Foursquare is something of an unlikely, or perhaps more accurately, unexpected success. The next-order challenge is to broaden the consumer appeal of the service without diluting it beyond recognition for early users.

Yelp by contrast has “arrived.” Its founders may see a challenge in maintaining its “cool” vs. newer sites like Foursquare. But I would suggest that Yelp now should focus on being a better utility and cityguide for everyone and not worry so much about holding on to its hipster image.

Yelp Now Selling Video to SMBs

June 7, 2010

Yelp has teamed up with TurnHere to sell video to local businesses. Here’s the Yelp post:

Today we’re excited to announce that Yelp advertisers now have the option to add video to their business profile page. I’ve personally viewed hundreds of these videos and I have to say that they can really help yelpers get a sense of a business’s ambiance, personality and specialties in a very short amount of time.

Here are the options:

  • Premium Video:  Advertisers receive a 30-60 second custom video shot at their place of business by a professional filmmaker from the TurnHere network.
  • Standard Video: Advertisers receive a 30 second video slideshow made from a series of photos provided by the business with music and custom voiceover narration.

Long time in coming. Seems like there’s lots of movement coming out of Yelp right now.

4Square & SMBs: First Survey Data at SMX

June 6, 2010

Will Scott, Matt Siltala, Chuck Reynolds and I collaborated on the first survey I know of that polls SMBs using Foursquare to promote themselves. This is not a random group of small businesses that may or may not have heard of Foursquare, this is 125 SMBs currently offering rewards and incentives on the LBS site.

We had a call about the survey results on Friday and they’re very interesting.

In some ways these businesses are very typical SMBs and in other respects they’re absolutely not. Will and Matt will be presenting the data as part of the #SMX panel “Location Services: The New Local Search?” on Wednesday.

Almost 50% of these respondents have a marketing budget of less than $2,500 per year. But the overwhelming majority have websites and Facebook pages. Another interesting fact: these businesses are geographically distributed all over the US, not just in the “broadband metros.”

Lots more interesting stuff on Wednesday.

Yelp’s ‘Hidden’ PPCall Opportunity

June 6, 2010

Pay per call is not something that Yelp currently sells, to my knowledge. However this little bit of data caught my eye in a Yelp blog post last week:

Last month, over half a million calls were made to local businesses directly from our Yelp iPhone App. That’s about 1 call every 5 seconds to a business as a result of Yelp.

Imagine if Yelp were to start to monetize these calls. There are several challenges in doing that of course (e.g., they’d be intercepting calls going to those businesses arguably anyway). But the volume suggests the company has an opportunity with PPCall.

And when other smartphone platforms are included the call volumes could approach a million monthly calls.

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Related (though nothing about the data above): Mercury News interview: Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO

Harris Data on the ‘What’ & ‘Why’ of Social Media

June 5, 2010

Earlier this week pollster Harris published some interesting data from a consumer survey conducted in April (n=2,131) about social media attitudes and motivations:

[N]early two-thirds (64%) of online Americans use social media, and most social media users (84%) reveal information about themselves via social media channels.

Among the findings is also a discussion of the influence of reviews and their various sources (click to enlarge graphics).

While 84% of social media users are providing tweets and updates, more than 20% are discussing brands and products or generating reviews. The following charts show the relative influence of reviews by content source and by age group:

The hierarchy of review influence is:

  1. Friends & family
  2. Reviews from newspapers or magazines (experts/professional/editorial)
  3. One’s broader network
  4. Blogs/message boards
  5. Celebrity “reviews” (most influential on the 18-34 yr old group)

What Do You Think Is Going on Here?

June 4, 2010

This is an insignia that apparently appeared inside Mark Zuckerberg’s “hoodie” during his D8 interview (SF Weekly reconstructed it). As they say in the article this symbol appears nowhere on the site or in public Facebook materials otherwise:

Here’s the clip where Kara Swisher of AllThingsD jokes about it:

It was struck by it; it seems odd. What you think? Is it playful or sinister?

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Update: An identical hoodie put up for sale on eBay by a Facebook staffer is now going for $510 (as of 11:26 Pacific time on Sunday):

NY Times’ Scoop App a Model for Others

June 4, 2010

The NY Times now has four iPhone apps: its main site, real estate, crosswords and a new city and entertainment guide “The Scoop.” In my relatively quick perusal of it The Scoop seems to be a very useful New York restaurant, bar and entertainment directory.

It uses the paper’s editorial content and selectively extracts those listings and reviews that are relevant to the app, also taking advantage of location-awareness on the iPhone. Here are some screens:

This kind of app will give UGC sites a genuine run for their money. And, as you can also see, there’s great ad inventory for contextually and locally relevant advertisers — including rich media.

Other newspaper publishers could equally create mobile apps along these lines. For example the SF Chronicle should build an app around its popular “top 100″ restaurants guide.

Yelp Integrates OpenTable

June 4, 2010

In a way I’m surprised this didn’t happen earlier. But Yelp announced that it has integrated OpenTable reservations:

Beginning tonight, logged in Yelp users will be able to easily make a reservation without having to leave the site or create an OpenTable account. Yelp users who already have an OpenTable account will automatically receive credit to their OpenTable account, for their reservation — no need to log into both sites.

It’s not live so you can’t find it on the site yet. But here’s a screengrab from the Yelp blog post:

Yelp will presumably get an affiliate payment for every reservation it delivers.

Yelp competitor Urbanspoon recently introduced its own challenger to OpenTable called “Rez.”

Superpages Adopts Yext Rep Tool for Advertisers

June 2, 2010

SuperMedia’s Superpages indicated that it will make available the Yext reputation management tool to its advertisers over the next few months. I spoke with Superpages VP Robyn Rose, who said the company evaluated other reputation tools but preferred the comprehensiveness and simplicity of the Yext UI and product generally. It’s also free.

Superpages happens to be one of the local sites that Yext Rep tracks.

I asked Rose who she anticipated the primary user of the product would be. She opined that a vanguard group of savvy local advertisers would use Yext Rep. But she added that beyond this it would probably be Superpages’ sales and account reps who would initially tap the product and convey the information to advertiser-clients. Rose said that the capabilities that Yext Rep offers are of interest to Superpages’ advertisers; informal discussions with SMBs have indicated this to the company.

Reputation/presence management is quickly becoming a must-have capability for local publishers, even if most SMB advertisers might be inhibited somewhat in the use of these tools.

Competing products in the market specifically targeting SMBs include (not in any specific order of preference or priority):

  • Marchex
  • Yellowbot
  • Vendasta’s StepRep
  • MyRepMan from Moon Valley Software
  • Palore’s AmIVisible
  • GetListed
  • Citysearch is also reportedly developing one for its advertisers

I’m sure there are others that I’ve missed here. And there’s a large category of enterprise level “listening” or “buzz monitoring” services that have been around for several years.

Here’s my earlier, more comprehensive discussion of the Yext Rep tool: .

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Update: The TechCrunch piece that was just brought to my attention gets some of the information wrong BTW. (It’s not going to automatically roll out to all Superpages advertisers.)

Do You Trust Your Social Network?

June 2, 2010

Obviously the Facebook privacy row caused lots of people to discuss the question of trust on social media sites. One research firm (Vision Critical) conducted a survey of “4,000 randomly-selected adults in the US, UK and Canada” on the question of trust, privacy and social networks. The results came out at the beginning of last month.

There are a number of findings about trust and consumer attitudes toward various media categories. Here’s the relevant “slide” regarding the perceived trustworthiness of social networks:

You can click the image above to enlarge it. What it says is the following (the numbers vary by country but are generally consistent across the board):

  • I am very concerned about my privacy on online social networks: a majority said yes
  • I worry that online social networks are selling my personal information to advertisers: a slight majority said yes
  • I don’t mind online social networks using my personal preferences to target ads I see because it means they’ll be more relevant: only 20% to 25% said “yes” to this idea.

Quit Facebook day was largely a failure, with only 35K joining (out of more than 500 million members globally):

Let’s assume the survey results above are somewhat representative of the larger population of Facebook members. The failure of more of them to quit may reflect ambivalence about the site: people don’t want to leave the party but they may be acting in a more cautious and circumspect way regarding what they’re doing and sharing.

Has your behavior or have your attitudes about posting/sharing on Facebook changed at all in the wake of the recent Open Graph/Social Plug-ins privacy controversy?

Disney Selling Toy Story Tix on Facebook

June 2, 2010

As the NYT is reporting, Disney has begun to sell movie tickets on Facebook for the upcoming Toy Story 3:

It points toward all sorts of commerce that might take place on Facebook.

I’ve long believed that Facebook is ideally positioned as a “social shopping” platform. But this is just the beginning of transactions on the social network, which could eventually become a significant source of revenue for Facebook in addition to advertising.

MyRepMan: Yet Another Strong Reputation Tool

June 1, 2010

My tour through the various SMB presence and reputation management platforms continues. Late last week I spoke with Pete Ryan and Damian Rollison of Moon Valley Software. They showed me their MyRepMan product, which has been in development for the past couple years. Another impressive product, it appears to me to be the broadest one I’ve encountered in this growing area.

Among the things it does, MyRepMan identifies the presence or absence of business listings on relevant local sites and scores each business. It provides detail from individual directories and search engines. It captures mentions and reviews and also seeks to integrate paid advertising placement into the dashboard.

Here are some screenshots to illustrate most of this functionality (click to expand):

Like the YellowBot reputation product, StepRep and maybe even Yext, MyRepMan has more “horsepower” than most SMBs can be expected to utilize. Indeed, a tiny subset of the overall population will take advantage of all these tools have to offer. The primary audience for most of these products may turn out to be sales or account reps working with SMBs and not SMBs themselves. Moon Valley in fact developed MyRepMan as a sales aid for one of the yellow pages publishers.

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Moon Valley’s Damian Rollison offers his own overview of the MyRepMan product and its capabilities.

Will Yahoo Bite Local Newspapers?

June 1, 2010

Alan Mutter offers a provocative post on how Yahoo! may challenge local newspapers, who are some of the site’s primary partners:

Yahoo appears to be getting ready to produce local websites filled with original content that could compete with newspapers, posing a particular challenge to the hundreds of publishers who now sell advertising for the powerful portal.

The apparent intention to target the sweet spot for publishers was signaled last month when Yahoo announced plans to buy Associated Content for $100-ish million to gain access to some 380,000 individuals who are willing to write articles, take pictures and produce videos for rates starting at $2 per effort. The deal is scheduled to close later this year.

Insiders here in Silicon Valley say the odds are strong that a good number of those content producers will be deployed to cover local news in the hope of assembling ever-larger audiences for the premium-priced advertising that Yahoo sells via the rich user database it has amassed over the years.

No doubt some of the Associated Content writers (now indirectly beholden to Yahoo!) will cover local markets as Mutter suggests. However if Yahoo does something like MSN Local it won’t necessarily be an affront to newspapers. It could also provide newspapers with some additional distribution.

Yahoo! is unlikely to do something that would self-consciously compete with its newspaper partners. But it is true that if the company does a great job with local content sites online newspapers could suffer as a practical matter. Yahoo! has many more content and engineering assets than newspapers and has the capacity to produce sites or subdomains that are more user-friendly and utilitarian than most newspapers.

I could imagine a local content area that combines some of Yahoo! Local, with news, maps (from Nokia/Navteq) and content from other places on Yahoo! and third party sites.

Free Speech & Defamation in Local Reviews

May 31, 2010

A new sushi place opened in my neighborhood recently. I was pretty excited; we’ve had only a mediocre Japanese place that mysteriously remains in business despite its low quality. I’ve often thought it must a front for criminal activity, how else could it survive?

Initially the new restaurant got very favorable reviews on Yelp but then a second wave of unfavorable reviews appeared and dragged down its overall rating from almost five stars to three. I was surprised but when I looked more closely the critics seemed to be complaining about two main things: it took too long to get a table and the fish wasn’t as good as expected — likely based on the earlier reviews.

In other words, positive reviews had helped create the crowds, which the second wave of reviewers complained about. It also created very high expectations that the second group came to dinner with. There’s something strange and even vaguely unfair about that; the early success fueled wait times and expectations that were disappointed. (I haven’t yet been there so I can’t comment on the quality of the experience or the food.)

I admit I felt frustration and event a tinge of anger. This second group was threatening to kill the place before it really had a chance to get going or before I’d had a chance to get there myself. I empathized with the business owner and was able to feel in a vicarious sort of way the resentment some SMBs have of amateur reviewers.

While there’s often valuable feedback in reviews, most people writing them have little or no idea what’s involved in running a small business. In addition some of the most frequent Yelpers, for example, are often writing for one another (sometimes with a heavy helping of snark) rather than objectively reviewing the restaurant or other local business in question. There’s often only limited thought given to the potential impact on the business itself.

I am very glad that Yelp had established its Small Business Advisory Council. I think this will only be good for the site in the long run. It also addresses and redresses the perception of imbalance and unfairness that is partly responsible for fueling the litigation Yelp is now defending against.

Of course, one could argue that a well-run business will ultimately garner more favorable reviews than negative and everything will take care of itself. And there’s truth in that argument.

Some businesses that believe they’ve been wronged by negative reviews (mostly unwisely) take legal action against online critics. This should only be done where it’s entirely justified and only in the most extreme cases.

The New York Times has a nice article on this subject, When Online Gripes Are Met With a Lawsuit. It frames the issue in the larger context of defamation vs. free speech and Slapp, “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” The article’s hook is a defamation suit brought by a towing company against a guy who set up a Facebook page against the company after his car was incorrectly towed:

After a towing company hauled Justin Kurtz’s car from his apartment complex parking lot, despite his permit to park there, Mr. Kurtz, 21, a college student in Kalamazoo, Mich., went to the Internet for revenge.

Outraged at having to pay $118 to get his car back, Mr. Kurtz created a Facebook page called “Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing.” Within two days, 800 people had joined the group, some posting comments about their own maddening experiences with the towing company.

T&J filed a defamation suit against Mr. Kurtz, claiming the site was hurting business and seeking $750,000 in damages.

Is this a business that has been wronged or is it a company using strong-arm tactics to silence a critic. In this case it’s almost certainly the latter. The article goes on to discuss various anti-Slapp laws and pending federal legislation that would make it harder for litigation to be brought against consumers simply voicing their opinions and experiences online.

One of the more interesting discussions in the article is about a tactic that some doctors are using to control negative reviews about them online:

Recognizing that lawsuits can bring more unwanted attention, one organization has taken a different tack. The group Medical Justice, which helps protect doctors from meritless malpractice suits, advises its members to have patients sign an agreement that gives the doctor copyright over a Web posting if the patient mentions the doctor or practice.

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, chief executive of Medical Justice, said about half of the group’s 2,500 members use the agreement.

Presumably then the doctor can simply contact the directory — InsiderPages for example — and say it owns the critical review in question and ask for its removal. I’m not so sure, however, that these agreements are legal. Patients probably don’t understand that they’re signing away their right to criticize the doctor. It probably also qualifies as an illegal prior restraint on free speech. And then there are the review sites’ fine print, which often assert they own the review copyright as well. So there’s a tangle of legal issues that have yet to be sorted out by a court.

Given how influential reviews can be SMBs need some way to respond. Yelp and other review sites do provide mechanisms, to comment upon and clarify the context of a review and/or to contact the unhappy individual and try to make good on the problem or bad experience. But on balance the system as it currently stands is far from perfect — and most SMBs simply have to do their best and hope that people are basically fair and honest.

Facebook’s Coming Q&A Service & Local

May 31, 2010

There are a range of “Q&A” services in the market: Yahoo! Answers, kgb, ChaCha, Quora, Aardvark (Google) and several others. Yellow Pages Group (Canada) and SuperMedia offer variations on this idea in the yellow pages segment.

Now Facebook is about to launch a Q&A service and it’s taking “applications” for beta testers:

We at Facebook are preparing to launch a brand new product to the world. We think it will be as exciting as Facebook Photos and Facebook Events, but we need your help to make it great.

As a beta tester, your job will be to ask great questions and provide great answers about your favorite topics. Economics? Skydiving? Relationships? Mexican Restaurants? It’s up to you. You’ll be the first person outside of Facebook to use this product. Your expert writing will be seen by tens of millions of people — including job recruiters. And we’ll bring our best beta testers out to California to tour Facebook headquarters and meet the team.

The intent is to tap Facebook’s massive global user base for answers to a range of questions that are very broad in scope:

We don’t know exactly how the service will operate, but it has clear local/LBS potential. Many people today ask questions of their networks on Facebook: “Does anybody know a great X?”

A structured, searchable service that provides responses in near real time could become a very potent way to get (local) information and recommendations. Could is the operative word here, until we see how it works.

There are a number ways in which Facebook is poised to become a real force in local for both consumers and small businesses marketers. This is just one.

Placecast Cleans Dirty Location Data

May 28, 2010

In the couple of months since Placecast launched its Match API the company has seen great traction and discovered how compromised much of the location data is “out there” — especially when it’s user-generated. The Match API “cleans” individual data sets and helps de-dupe and correct data where publishers are drawing upon multiple data sources.

Placecast CEO Alistair Goodman described it like a laundromat: dirty data in, clean data out. According to the press release out this morning:

Placecast is finding traction with its solution for cleaning and managing location-based data. The creators of Placecast MatchAPI announce that in fewer than 60 days since it was initially launched, more than 200 LBS-related companies have signed up to use the data management tool, including WCities, Socialight, Buzzd and AlikeList . . .

Initial experience with location-based companies using the MatchAPI platform reveals interesting insights about the quality of location data. Statistics from datasets uploaded indicate that when the Placecast MatchAPI platform cleans a data set, there is an average fault rate of over 8%, growing to as much as 40% in data sets with high proportions of user-generated content . . .

With the strong initial interest, Placecast is now rolling out a developer portal in order to continue to provide free services for correcting duplication and matching across different location data sets, two of the biggest challenges in building location-based services that scale. The portal is live at http://www.placecast.net/developer/

Alistair Goodman also corrected some faulty assumptions I held about the product. Placecast isn’t working with a master database and comparing individual data sets to that master list. Nor are they generating one — yet.

It would be hypothetically possible through the involvement of all these parties for Placecast to develop a common, clean LBS database. This is my speculation, however, and not anything Goodman said the company would be doing. At the present time it’s not sharing data among partners. But “collaboration” is one of the features or “values” in the Match API developer portal.

This master LBS database is, in a way, “low-hanging fruit” as a phase II for this product. There’s also the potential for a local ad network or “exchange,” which could eventually emerge from this as well.

Geotoko: LBS App Marketing Tool for SMBs

May 28, 2010

BrightKite created master consumer check-in tool Check.in, which enables users to check in to multiple LBS apps simultaneously:

Now in a parallel way Geotoko seeks to make it easier for SMBs to utilize multiple LBS services and contests for promotional purposes:

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.


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