GOLOCAL Awards Finalists Set for BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL Next Week


When we started the GOLOCAL Awards last year at our Atlanta NATIONAL show, we felt there was a real gap in awareness about the great local campaigns by national and regional brands. The diversity and quality of what was entered in the Awards was incredible.

Now we are wrapping up our Second Edition. Our seven independent judges have just completed their work, and the finalists in three key areas — Innovation, Sales/Revenue and Strategic Use of Digital Marketing — will be highlighted at the start of Day 3 of our Dallas NATIONAL show next week. The finalists include:

Innovation

  • “Sears’ Online Social Review Innovation” — Yext
  • “Local Video Ad Campaigns Deliver Results for Wendy’s” — Sightly

Sales/Revenue

  • “Bill Luke Dealership Increases RAM Truck Sales” — Haystak Digital Marketing

Strategic Use of Digital Marketing

  • “Lead Generation & Social Audience Engagement” — G/O Digital
  • “PowerChord STIHL Southeast First Watch YouTube” — PowerChord on behalf of STIHL
  • “ShopRite Store Opening Promotion via Bucks Happening” — Happenings Media
  • “UMB Bank” — Placeable
  • “Just Said Yes Campaign” — WeddingWire
  • “Inspiring a Mobile Audience to Take Action” — xAd + Goodwill Industries & Ad Council
  • “Nationwide Just Say YES — Digital Marketing for Maytag” — Nationwide Marketing Group, Netsertive and Maytag by Whirlpool

Sponsoring the Awards is Where2GetIt, which is one of our leading sources and advisors in NATIONAL, working with over 500 brands. CEO Manish Patel tells us that “The finalists represent the tremendous talent and diversity we are seeing every day in our work with national brands in this incredibly fast-growing space.” Come to the NATIONAL event in Dallas, and cheer ‘em on! The top three winners will be announced at the end of the session.

UBL, Advice Interactive Group to Merge: SEO + Syndicated Listings


UBL, a publicly-owned syndicator of updated business listings and profiles, is merging with The Advice Interactive Group, a fast-growing search marketing firm that has evolved into a full service agency. The merged company is slated to earn nearly $20 million in 2015, and is refashioning itself as a peer to companies such as Go Daddy, ReachLocal, Local.com, Yext and Factual that are either public or have attracted attention on Wall Street.

UBL will provide stock and cash in consideration of the merger. While both companies initially keep their own identities, they intend to work towards an integration of operations and a single brand. Both companies earned approximately $8 million apiece in 2014. Charlotte-based UBL has 38 employees while Advice Interactive has 85 employees in Dallas and Newport Beach.

Billed as a “combination of equals,” UBL CEO Doyal Bryant will be the new entity’s CEO, while Advice CEO Bernadette Coleman will run marketing, tech and operations. Bryant notes that the deal allows UBL to focus on a growing global market in syndicated business profiles; an area that has gone beyond search engines to also include mobile apps, GPS search and online maps, video platforms, marketing platforms and social networks. UBL currently has operations in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand and says it will soon add four more countries.

Advice, meanwhile, is set to leverage UBL’s listings/video and mobile-rich database, and provide a one stop for a wide range of activities for its business and enterprise customers. These include local search, PPC & SEM, reputation management, SEO, Web design, content marketing and social media. The majority of Advice’s customers come from local channel partners; its strength and technology platform are expected to enhance UBL’s current efforts in the space, which are not a main emphasis.

The merger gives Advice “a major edge over everyone in the (SEO) space,” says Coleman. As marketing moves to hyperlocal capabilities, it isn’t just about search anymore, she emphasizes. “Clients need to have data syndication; optimized profiles; and customized linking and meta data – all in one place.”

Advice Interactive Group CEO Bernadette Coleman is speaking at BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL, which takes place March 25-27 in Dallas.

Analysis: Walmart’s Pull-out from Google’s Local Inventory Ads

Building ecommerce, promotions, search, social and same day delivery services around store inventory is one of those high concept ideas that always make so much sense but have been tough to build around. Key players in the space currently include Google, Retailigence and others. Others, such as eBay, have pulled out or shrunk their efforts.

We’ve been especially interested in Walmart’s decision last week to pull its feeds from Google’s Local Inventory Ads (formerly known as Local Product Listing Ads). Launched in 2013 to complement Google’s e-commerce oriented Shopping ads, the ads allow stores to highlight local inventory and prices, and point shoppers to specific stores. Macy’s, REI and Office Depot are among users of the Google service, but most top retailers are still not participating.

Some of those that do apparently have been holding their noses. To participate with Google, they need to provide comprehensive inventory information. Walmart and others have apparently worried this information could be used against them, showing retailers where they can compete on price against it in different parts of the country.

Perhaps more importantly, retailers are worried that their feeds are infrequently updated and can contain inaccuracies and steer shoppers down the wrong path. Such feeds also may freeze the ability of retailers to engage in variable pricing strategies (i.e. “one hour afternoon specials”). In our view, Walmart’s pull out doesn’t mean that Google and others can’t succeed. But it does mean that it will need to make adjustments to work with dominent retailers that have a lot at stake.

Are there better strategies to collect and leverage inventory at local stores? We’ll be talking inventory strategies with retail expert and former Krillion CEO Sherry Thomas-Zon at BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL in Dallas March 25-27.

NATIONAL Focus: Where2GetIt’s Manish Patel on ‘Chief Location Officers’

Chief Marketing Officers will become “Chief Location Officers” if Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel has any say about it. Patel is a featured speaker at BIA/Kelsey National in Dallas March 25-27 appearing on a platform leaders panel with Netsertive’s Brendan Morrissey, Yext’s Christian Ward and LocalBizNow’s Todd Webber.

Brands have made a lot of progress in localizing their efforts, says Patel. But they are still playing catch up with their local targeting efforts, considering all the opportunities they have at their disposal.

Patel, whose company works with over 500 brands, emphasizes that “Local needs to take center stage.” To do that, the industry can’t have every feature or channel in a silo. “You can’t have a mobile guy, a review guy and a social guy,” he says. “Someone from the marketing team needs to know someone at the location” who can tie together reviews, competitive intelligence, search and mobile advertising – as well as the brand executives who handle real estate and operations.

“Everything is tied into the ecosystem,” adds Patel, who will discuss best practices during his appearance at NATIONAL. “When a customer search is not successful they don’t blame Google. They blame the brand. Accurate location information is paramount.”

Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel

Booker Software Raises $35 Million; CEO Josh McCarter Talks to BIA/Kelsey

Booker Software announced today that it has raised $35 Million, which it will use to invest in sales and marketing capabilities and in developing vertical-specific products that “drive more value to merchants,” said CEO Josh McCarter, in a discussion with BIA/Kelsey.

McCarter noted that 9,000 locations are under contract and over 60,000 business users. These are users who are “logging in every day. They are not just signing on once a month” to create a promotion or similar feature. They use Booker’s services as an integral part of their business.

Next steps for the company will further leverage all the trends impacting services-based SMB marketing, including CRM; retention marketing; Point of Sales services; scheduling; and mobile apps via a partnership with Como.

“Last year, we refocused on things that help you grow and operate more efficiently,” said McCarter, noting that the company rebranded from Gramercy One to specifically focus on the SMB space, which now accounts for 80 percent of its revenue. “The data that Booker can aggregate really powers the growth engine,” he said. Services such as email and CRM are only as powerful as the data they can use.

While spas and salons continue to account for a significant portion of the company’s business (dating to its origins as SpaFinder), a number of verticals hold great promise, said McCarter. Pet services, daycare and after-school services (music lessons, art lessons) are doing “very well.” Another area of growth is a JV with The Golf Channel that enables customers to book tee times and other services.

The new round of funding is on top of $40 million previously raised. Several mid-sized funders that specialize in SMB services were included in the round, including Signal Peak (InfusionSoft) and Jump Capital (Swift Pages). The round was led by Medina Capital, a cloud infrastructure specialist.

Other investors included Revolution (Steve Case and Ted Leonsis), Bain Capital, TDF Ventures and Grotech Ventures. In addition, a “strategic investment” was made by First Data, the payment processing giant, who will be announcing details of its relationship with Booker in coming months.

McCarter noted that each investor brings a unique appreciation of Booker’s goals in serving the SMB community, which has been “underserved” by larger VCs, which McCarter called “SMB-averse.” But there is a definite need for SMB services, which focus less on return policies or other ecommerce issues. They are more about everything that a business needs, from scheduling services to POS innovation to equipment rentals. It is a $2.4 trillion space, he argued.

Booker Software CEO Josh McCarter

56 Speakers Set for BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL, March 25-27: Cars.com’s Mitch Golub Added

The BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL show is now fully in place, with 56 speakers set to define the cutting edge in national brands and local marketing. The show takes place March 25-27 at The Dallas Westin. Just added to the program: Internet visionary Mitch Golub, who leaves Cars.com today after successfully developing it into a $1.8 Billion enterprise that has, along with AutoTrader.com, helped define all the best practices of working with the world’s most aggressive national and local marketers (the car manufacturers and car dealers.)

Also added: key brands defining the best in vertical marketing. Dental One Partners, VCA (Animal Hospitals) and Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning have now been added to a lineup that also includes leaders from Brooks Brothers, UniGroup (United Van Lines), Rooms to Go, All My Sons Moving & Storage, El Pollo Loco, U-Haul International, Nestle TollHouse Café, and The Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Announced earlier: keynotes from Google’s Brendon Kraham; Facebook’s Jon Czaja; Bizhive’s Dave Walker, Kenshoo’s Aaron Goldman, Geary LSF’s Karen Traversi Kovaleski and The Weather Co’s Ryan Davis. There are also key sessions with thought leaders such as YP’s Melissa Burghardt, The Washington Post Co’s Ethan Selzer; The Dallas Morning News’ Grant Moise; Meredith Corp’s Pam Taylor; and TvB’s Steve Lanzano.

The program also marks the debut of key new BIA/Kelsey data on franchise marketing from our Local Commerce Monitor survey. And last but not least, we’ll be doing Dallas right, with two Best of Dallas receptions; a “Before the Bell” Dallas Innovator Breakfast at the Addison Treehouse sponsored by Speakeasy; Two social breakouts, including National DEMOs and Drinks and Women Leading in Local; and an After Hours Country Casino sponsored by Local Site Submit and Moon Valley Software.

Check out the full, 2 ½ day agenda. You may register here.

Cars.com visionary Mitch Golub is set for BIA/Kelsey National

New BIA/Kelsey Report Shows Momentum for Card-Linked Offers

BIA/Kelsey is out with my new paper on the status of card-linked offers, which is based on detailed discussions with 14 leaders of the card linking ecosystem, including credit card firms, tech vendors, payment processors, publishers and merchants. Most of the respondents are members of The CardLinx Association.

This week, I presented report highlights to The CardLinx Association’s Mobile Summit in San Mateo. Among the findings: universal agreement that card linking is seeing momentum among merchants; that some budgets for card-linked offers have begun to move from experimental to seven-figure spending; and that many key categories are participating, including Quick Service and Fast Casual restaurants, specialty retail and subscription services.

Challenges remain, however. Once seen in simple terms as a successor to the prepaid model pioneered by Groupon and Living Social, there have been some slow-downs in the business. As Coupons.com SVP Bruce Sattley noted at The CardLinx Summit, “There is not as much fervor among retailers as I would have thought a year ago.”

Clearly, the ultimate success of card-linked offers will be linked to better coordination among the various segments of the CLO ecosystem; the development of a constant stream of attractive offers; greater awareness of CLOs; the elimination of structural sales blockages; and the development of industry standards for card-linked transactions.

More information about the report, including purchase information, may be accessed here.