Gannett’s Key Ring: Integrating Circulars With Loyalty Programs


Gannett’s acquisition of Key Ring two years ago was something of a head shaker. Was the media giant diving into online loyalty marketing, an area mostly dominated by financial institution-related companies? Two years later, more light has been shed on the Key Ring acquisition.

Key Ring is a mobile app that lets consumers electronically enter their loyalty card in in one digital location. In this regard, it is like Constant Contact’s CardStar. What we’ve learned is that Gannett is using the App to drive targeted traffic to its big box and retail circular advertisers from ShopLocal, the sister G/O Digital brand.

CEO Chris Fagan tells us Key Ring, which has 15 full time employees, now provides circular content from 160 retailers. Of these, 90 are providing exclusive content via ShopLocal. Offers can be triggered on user cell phones by geo location or via in-store beacons. You might access “Here is what is on sale at Target” for instance. Consumers can use it to explore and discover what is nearby.

The ShopLocal ties makes it possible to scale all the merchant and brand relationships without having to deal with each merchant and brand – a major barrier for other companies, says Fagan. The app also incorporates 65,000 coupons a month from Clipper Magazine.

What Key Ring really brings to the table is enormous scale. Fagan says the App has a surprisingly high 11.1 million customers. Active users may access it five or six times a month, with the more steady users not only accessing circular content, but the site’s shopping lists. These consumers have really high retention and recurring usage, says Fagan.

Interestingly, the majority of the customers are driven organically by good consumer press and other sources, he says. For instance, the comapny recently got a good mention in Good Housekeeping Magazine that really drove usage. Gannett’s cross media ads in USA Today and on its TV stations have been helpful, but not especially critical.

It’s Out: The Lineup for Leading in Local: ILM 2014 (Dec. 3-5, SFO)

The initial lineup for Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media 2014 is now officially released. This year’s ILM – our flagship event — takes place Dec. 3-5 at the SFO Hyatt, close to San Francisco and just up the road from most of the Silicon Valley leaders and startups. We expect 45+ hand-picked speakers, and more than 500 senior level attendees for the show, which remains local’s premier networking (and dealmaking) event.

Of special interest: The Local Tech Expo on Day 1, where we’ll feature some of the great technology innovations rocking our local world: everything, potentially, from Google Glasses to Connected Cars. Another key session: The Venture Capitalists. Former local leaders Will Hsu (AT&T) and Michael Yang (Yahoo) give the rundown on local venture from their respective perches at Mucker Labs and Comcast Ventures. We’ll also be showcasing plenty of BIA/Kelsey research, including new survey results on online loyalty marketing that we have been conducting with The Cardlinx Association.

Beyond that, our deep analyst team has developed six key themes in building ILM 2104.

1- Rethink and Extend Local Search. As local search begins to mimic natural discovery, we increasingly look at intelligent personal network and natural language capabilities to enhance and enlarge the search platform.

Google goes deep at ILM, highlighting five key categories that represent its commitment to local. Microsoft is going deep, too. Bing’s Kelly Thomas Nojaim and Ken Weyel have similarly chosen ILM to showcase Microsoft’s Cortana intelligent personal network – it should be a fantastic demonstration. We’re equally excited about Weotta founder Grant Wernick, who will highlight the role of natural language search in local discovery. On a related note: YP CMO Allison Checchi will highlight how YP’s approaching local discovery for the next generation of usage.

2- Social’s Growing Reach and Impact on Local. It’s not just Facebook. Social media has now emerged as a search bypass in some cases, and is being integrated into all measures of local business marketing success.

Pinterest VP Joel Meek keynotes Day 2, highlighting the incredible impact of Pins on every conceiveable local activity. Another Day 2 Keynote: Deseret Media CEO Clark Gilbert and President Chris Lee discuss the impact of native advertising and social on media’s future. Those guys have practically created a living laboratory in Utah., Our marketing automation and social leadership session also takes a broader look at social, with Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel, MomentFeed Chief Innovation Officer Rob Reed and EuroWeb CEO Christoph Preuss. Preuss provides a uniquely German perspective on social media.

3- The Explosive Growth of The Share Economy. It seems that every vertical is going through the process of Uberification – where consumers can “buy” from lists of pros, enhanced by their social reviews.

We have especially strong players in Home Improvement, with The Home Depot’s Anthony Roddio; Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta; and ex ReachLocal head Zorik Gordon talking about his new venture, Serviz. Also Joining us: Urgent.ly CEO Chris Spanos, who will discuss the Uber model for auto repair.

4- Do it With Me? The biggest questions in local still come down to scale in reaching and serving SMBs, and the utility and value of the services. Is the ideal platform Do It for Me. Or DIY? Our strategist Stacey Sedbrook focus on Do it With Me as a hybrid effort.

Yodle CEO Court Cunningham — one of our highest rated speakers – keynotes. McClatchy/TruMeasure GM Charity Huff and Vendasta Technologies CEO Brendan King are similarly set to share their deep insights. Vendasta is set to showcase some deep market analysis at the show.

5- Mobile, Mobile (Video). The emergence of Mobile as a true advertising and media channel has had wide ranging implications for local. One area we’ll focus on: the use of mobile for local video. This area is busting loose.

Datasphere SVP Gary Cowan will detail the company’s advanced mobile video program, while StudioNow President Dan Corts and Media Distribution Solutions COO Brian Russell provide insights into scaling video with style.

6- Go Deep with Analytics and CRM. Local businesses need to see the ROI. And with the rising impact of social, they especially need better guidance in their campaign planning.

Salesforce VP Randy Wootton — a longtime BIA/Kelsey favorite from his Microsoft days –lays out how CRM plays in our space on Day 3. Also on Day 3: First Data SVP Krish Mantripragada shows how “you are what you buy” via the Insightics analytics platform. And our Call Management and Analytics Superforum provides real insight into what can be done. Marchex’s Brooks McMahon, IfByPhone’s Irv Shapiro and CallRail’s Mark Sullivan are set.

Sound good? You may easily register here.

All Roads Lead to Groceries: Groupon Adds ‘Snap’ Loyalty Program

When it comes to local commerce and loyalty programs, all roads lead to groceries. That’s the feeling of key companies in the space, including WalMart, Amazon, Google and eBay. Groupon this week announced Snap, a grocery coupon and loyalty program that gets it into groceries in a more meaningful way than prior efforts to go in via daily deals – where the discounts were not sustainable in an industry that is more dependent on “cents off” than “55 percent” off.

As reported in Chicago Business, Snap replaces Freebies, a coupon program launched in 2013 that has attracted 30,000 coupons from 7,000 retailers. Users of Snap receive offers and get money back after they aggregate $20 of discounts — if they upload photos of receipts showing the goods that were promoted. (This validation effort could prove a little klugey.)

While a robust grocery and delivery program has its own value, it may also lead to a key gateway into women shoppers; strong user behavior analytics; and peripheral deliveries or transactions with other goods such as electronics, etc. Groceries are also used more often than other key anchor promotion verticals, such as restaurants and services. Google similarly entered the grocery coupon business last year with the rollout of Zavers.

In Groupon’s case, the Snap program also supports its broader Marketplace effort, which allows advertisers to participate in many different channels (deals, coupons, ads). Seventy-five percent of Groupon business advertisers currently use Groupon for at least one feature in addition to the one-off deals. One of the key issues with Marketplace has been to provide a volume of listings so that searchers will always find things when they search for them. Currently, 9 percent of Groupon’s transactions emanate from Marketplace.

The Snap program does not get Groupon into dedicated home delivery — yet — but it does build out the marketplace, and could serve as an effective building block.

Ex Reach Local CEO Revisits Home Improvement; Groupon is Lead Investor

ReachLocal cofounder Zorik Gordon left the company last year after veering sharply to the left with ClubLocal, a consumer-facing brand that would collect home improvement pricing and reviews, and assign jobs to home improvement pros.

Now, Gordon and several ClubLocal alumnis are back with Serviz, a similar service that has launched in southern California after running a beta since February. Groupon is Serviz’s largest investor, with an undisclosed ownership share. ReachLocal, where much of the intellectual work was developed, still controls 19.8 percent of the company.

Groupon could theoretically apply its sales forces to recruit home improvement pros, but Gordon tells us that Serviz is being launched with its own sales forces. Most of the core concepts remain the same from ClubLocal –recruit consumers with convenience, price and service guarantees and a strong review base, and recruit home improvement pros with guaranteed work. “They are fundamentally on demand home services,” said Gordon. “”What we’ve done is focus on transparency, and transparency of pricing. Uber has shown what it takes to really hold and disrupt the conventional ecosystem.

The key differences this time take off from this theme: there is a focus on sole practitioners, who have more flexibility in their time and ability to charge, and ultimately, much lower prices. “You don’t need to charge $250 for a home visit from a home tech, who is being paid $15 an hour,” said Gordon.

Gordon acknowledges there is a lot of competition in the space, with the emergence of players like Thumbtack, Pro.com, Handy, Home Joy and even Amazon coming in, all building on a base that already has Angie’s List and Home Advisor.

Amazon will come in as a marketplace, and won’t be a direct competitor, he says. In fact, he hopes to participate in the Amazon marketplace. “No one is going to come to your house with an Amazon shirt,” says Gordon.

The other services range from what Gordon characterizes as directory listers, like Thumbtack and Pro.com; to low end service fulfillment players like Handy. Serviz will work at higher point in the value chain by focusing more on specialized service providers like HVAC and electrical. “We’re building a horizontal platform around higher end home services,” he says.

Zorik Gordon and Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta are among the initial speakers appearing at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media, Dec. 3-5 in San Francisco. Get early pricing now.

YPG’s Julien Billot at BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: Digital is Key to Revival

In true disruptive technology style, YPG is separating digital sales from print sales to allow the company to grow overall even as print continues to decline, noted YPG CEO Julien Billot, during a keynote at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 22.

Billot noted that YPG has been leaking revenues, with revenues now 3X lower than in 2008. Growth will not come from existing customers, but must come from new customers. “Ninety percent of its customers still have print products. Meanwhile, “50 percent of non-advertisers do not believe YP is a credible digital brand nor feel that their customers use YP platforms,” said Billot.

To turn things around, Billot is plotting three phases of “resetting,” which he says is different from “transformation.” Between now and 2018, there will be a “return to growth” focused on stand alone digital. The final phase will be dedicated to accelerating growth, with a sustainable digital business — one that is focused as much on media as on sales.

“We are much more in the media business today,” he noted. Much of the resetting will be oriented towards new branding to change the way that people think about YP, he added, noting that he will budget Can $25 Million for the next four years to achieve this goal.

Acxiom ‘s Scott Howe, BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: ‘Almost Any Data Can Be Helpful’ for SMBs

“Not all data is created equal, but almost anything can be helpful,” said Acxiom CEO and President Scott Howe, who keynoted at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23. Now they can choose among connection speed, day part, geotarget, behavioral — or ideally, a multi-variable segment. If they can mix and match with a multi-variable, SMBs can see a lift approaching 6950 percent from unenhanced efforts.

“For so long, only thing SMBs could do to monetize was search, direct mail… things that allowed them to go a little granular… but they could not do what big guys did. Now they can,” said Howe. “But multichannel marketing works and should be a priority in your efforts. The best marketers know they need to do everything.”

Howe noted that SMBs are “nervous about this stuff” and often withdraw. But for digital resellers, it should be all about “test and learn, test and learn.”

Marketers can’t do anything, however, unless they get consumers to give permissions. Howe is confident that such permissions will be forthcoming. “Consumers want to have a voice,” said Howe.

Big Data at BIA/Kelsey, New Orleans: SMBs and Big Data ‘Sophistication’

SMBs are increasingly incorporating data analytics into their marketing efforts and not surprisingly, data vendors and service providers are working to entrench themselves with SMB digital marketing channels, as several industry leaders noted at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23.

For SMBs, “it is not about size, it is about sophistication,” noted InfoGroup CDO Matt Graves. “Sophistication is what matters in how SMBs target,” and may translate into such channels as multichannel buys and geo-targeting.

But SMBs are not easy to work with. “SMBs are our hardest customers,” says Graves. “They are not as forgiving as our larger customers. They want us to come up with a plan to help them be successful.”

Speaking on the same session, Radius VP Megan Austin Karlen cautioned that data cannot be treated as one homogenous category — it is a living organism with new inputs all the time. There is data at rest (volume); data in motion (velocity); data in many forms (variety); and data in doubt (veracity). You cannot settle on traditional firmographic segmentation, she noted. Data also needs to be paired with software that enables merchants to access, analyze and integrate data in a simple and effective way.”

Radius itself made news at the conference, announcing a Series C raise of $54.7 Million.