Why Pokemon Go Was The Biggest Local Story in 2016

What have been local game changers? My short list includes the rise of MapQuest; Craigslist; Google Local search; Yelp reviews; Small Business Saturday; and Groupon. This year’s candidate would be Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game from a founder of Google Maps that “lures” consumers to local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and parks in search of virtual characters on their phones. I like what Gib Olander calls it: “prompted search.”

Pokemon Go has probably peaked at this point, after driving 10 million worldwide users a week this summer. Twelve percent of all active smartphones — especially 21-27 year old men — installed the game. It was also very low cost: the typical cost for small stores to invest in a “Pokecoin” that would help lure dozens of people to the location was $100, or around $1.19 an hour.

We don’t think meaningful revenue was driven from SMBs in the first go-round. The locations were pre-determined. But sponsored locations are part of the game’s next iteration. Obviously, this is where the potential lies for Pokemon Go and other games — along with new promotions and directories.

Expanding on this further: the reason we’re so intrigued by Pokemon Go’s potential for local is that it suggests a new “gamification” path that — for some things — can take the place of straightforward media and directories. Indeed, it combines an augmented reality-like tech that we first used several years ago placing coupons on maps (mapvertising), directories and videogames.

Airbnb Lays Out Comprehensive Roadmap for Local Experiences

Airbnb announced at a large internal conference covered by Skift that it is branching out beyond linking travelers up with cheap rooms and will soon offer hosts and local communities opportunities to partner with it for tours, activities and hyper-local guides. Eventually, it hopes to allow its customers to book car rentals, restaurant reservations and […]

Belly Seeks Next Steps for Loyalty Marketing; CEO Logan LaHive Steps Down

Belly founder Logan LaHive is stepping down, signifying a new orientation for the company that focuses less on SMBs, which are tough to scale, towards analytics for national-to- local retail (like 7-Eleven, an investor.) CFO Dan Gloede is taking over the top spot. LaHive’s step-down tells a lot about the challenges of scaling SMB sales […]

Review: ‘Digital Vortex,’ a Strategy Guide for Incumbent Companies

Most business literature celebrates disrupters, but what should “incumbent” companies do to stay ahead of new competitors? How can they leverage digital capabilities and trends to steer themselves into the next generation? These are the questions addressed by a Cisco Initiatives/IMD team in a new book, “Digital Vortex: How Today’s Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive […]

Facebook SMB Resellers Make Argument for Their Platforms

Are SMBs going to turn to middlemen to handle their Facebook advertising? As four million SMB advertisers know, Facebook advertising is accessible, low commitment and inexpensive. It is fairly ideal for promoting local awareness and events. Facebook also delivers an audience that’s much less fragmented than search engines. From a vendor’s point of view, it […]

Borrell LOACWest: Mobile’s Rise Pushes ‘Digital’ Over the Top

Nothing like a local research firm’s conference to get a sense of where we are with the local digital revolution. Speaking at LOAC West this week in San Francisco, Borrell Associates co-founder Gordon Borrell says that the lines of revenue between traditional and digital “are crossing right now. It will be obvious next year.” This […]

Borrell LOACWest: NextDoor is Seen as ‘Hyperlocal Angie’s List’

NextDoor, the well-funded neighborhood discussion platform, is eying deeper relationships with local merchants and service providers (and monetization). VP of Business Development Craig Donato provided details and insights about the network this week at Borrell’s Local Online Advertising Conference West in San Francisco. Donato noted that NextDoor is up to almost 116,000 neighborhoods of 500-750 […]