eBay Gets Into Wanted Ads Via Rewarder


image: Crowdsourcing.org

eBay generally focuses on helping things get sold. But it has never had a “wanted” section. Now it has tipped its toes into ‘wanted” via a new partnership between eBay Classifieds and Rewarder.

Rewarder, a San Francisco-based expert network was founded two years ago by former Intuit/StepUp executive Kendall Fargo and backed by Granite Ventures. The network now has 750,000 experts, who “have a passion for helping people , but don’t want to do it for free,” says Fargo. “It’s an extension of the ‘sharing economy’” pioneered by AirBnB, Uber and others, he suggests.

While there are plenty of free expert resources, they don’t provide you with the detail you need, and they are not a personal solution, Fargo says. Things you want to own, such as cars and products, receive the most “wanted”queries. And the queries are very sharable via social media and other sources.

Mobile also plays a big role in the network. A lot of it is impulse. More than 200,000 people are using the mobile app. Would I use it to find a cat hotel during a car trip this summer? No. That’s more of a social survey. But you’d use it to learn how to start a cat hotel.

Here’s how it works: Rewarder receives the query, including reward amount; sends out alerts to the expert solution; and sends out a payment to the winning solution. Rewards vary widely but many are in the $10 to $50 range. A reward for finding a lost poodle was posted for $100. Another person posted a $50 reward for building a travel itinerary for Sydney, Australia. More than $14 Million worth of rewards are currently posted.

Fargo notes that 30 percent of queries are settled within six hours. “It is a matching and mashing system,“ he says.

Streetwise Media: Native Ads Go Hand in Hand with Local B2B Content

Local B2B news sites always make sense to us. But they have largely been an exercise in frustration, with a lot of money being thrown at them to build local journalism and sales teams. Back in the late 1990s, sites such as Localbusiness.com ran through millions of dollars in an effort to quickly launch and dominate the space.

New players have come out in recent years with business models incorporating native advertising –content-oriented advertising that contextually fits with other content. One of them is Advance Publications’ Streetwise Media.

Initially launched as an entrepreneurial local Boston site named Boston Innovation (now BostInno), the founders have honed the model — including specialized news index technology that can automatically track news releases — and are now in several markets, including Boston, Washington DC and soon, Chicago. More markets are likely to come on board in the near future. Advance bought the company in 2012 and kept the team intact, seeing clear business synergies with its more traditional Business Journals, which are in 40 markets.

CEO and co founder Chase Garbarino tells us his rollout model is to enter a market and focus on the startup community and entrepreneurship. “Once we get an audience foothold, our publications develop,” he says.

Each city varies in terms of its editorial focus. “In DC, we have four full-time writers focused on advocacy, innovation and things like that,” he says. “In Boston, we’ve had a ton of success with the college vertical.” Advertisers have come to realize they need to do more with content marketing, he adds.

Streewise has an internal team that focuses on the native advertising sales, while BizJournals sells most of the company’s traditional display ads. The key, says Garbarino, is that the native advertising format enables the company to guarantee and sell engagement.

“It is not just impressions,” hew says. “We can sell a half million impressions and guarantee one percent engagement; share content on LinkedIn and Twitter; and comment on it. It is not just used on the home page.”

The site’s technology also enables targeting around specific audiences. A campaign for Bentley Business School, for instance, focused on the value of having an MBA and was targeted to 20-somethings. The company does especially well with corporate workers and young working pros. While many B2B sites are focused on automation as a way to make them economical, Garbarino says that just won’t work. “The key to the model is having a local presence. You can’t do community and local news without being part of the community.”

A Look at the GOLOCAL Finalists: The Best in National Local

The Finalists for BIA/Kelsey’s GOLOCAL Awards have been announced. The winner of the final stage will be announced at LEADING IN LOCAL: The National Impact during a special session on May 8 highlighting finalists.(The conference runs May 7-9 and takes place in Atlanta).

The Awards were the result of a brainstorm with our friends at Balihoo, who agreed to sponsor them. We wanted to showcase the Best in Local online and mobile campaigns by national and regional players in the U.S. and Canada . The results are totally objective – we recruited an ace group of independent “national local” experts. The judges include Dave Walker, Rhonda Hills, Kerry Hatch, Brian Costello, Matt Booth and Tom Bates.

In the end, we had 36 finalists. The quality was phenomenal from everyone. It ended up being quite a learning experience.

The Finalists (in alpha):

1. Eventful/Fox Broadcasting: Fox worked with Eventful to run an integrated digital marketing campaign for Sleepy Hollow fans. It got 30,000+ fans in 2,972 cities to participate (and 1.04 million trailer views).
2. Eyeview/Lowe’s : Lowe’s developed a campaign to target local consumers via Big Data and geotargeted videos that customized pricing and product information from its closest stores.
3. Placeable/AAA Carolinas: AAA Carolinas launched a flexible, scaleable solution to manage and normalize location data and deploy it across its own website, search engines and social nets.
4. Tribune Broadcasting/Walmart. To promote Walmart’s last-minute holiday gift alerts, Tribune replicated the look and feel of a a TV “live shot” news report, customizing it for specific DMAs.
5. Vicinity: One of Canada’s fastest growing loyalty networks ran a digital and print campaign across a variety of targeted channels products over 136 businesses and 25,000+ new cardholders.
6. YP/Quiznos: Quiznos used mobile ads in three markets to target their competitors’ customers, boosting sales 6 percent over national average.
7. YP: YP created a bundled package for advertisers consisting of search, online listings management and mobile display. The program drove $1.2 million YP revenues and reduced lead costs for its advertisers.
8. xAd/Situation Interactive/MAMMA MIA: MAMMA MIA targeted New York tourists and area residents at key points of interest. The effort matched place-based targeting with real-world mobile behavioral data.

Speaker Update for Leading in Local: The National Impact, Atlanta, May 7-9

The spanking new program is set for Leading in Local: The National Impact, which is May 7-9 in Atlanta.

We’ve put together a great list of 55 hand-picked speakers – all centered on what’s really happening in local with a special, unprecedented eye on the all important franchise and brand customer — plus a unique tour of The Weather Company (and a chance to meet weather celebrity Sam Champion.)

Leading executives and thought leaders with advanced franchise and brand applications for local are at the top of the bill, including:

Chip Perry, Independent Consultant, AutoTrader’s ‘First Employee’
Curt Hecht, Global CRO, The Weather Co.
Mark Marinacci, President, Gannett/GO Digital
David Lebow, SVP, National, YP
Mitch Spolan, EVP, Global Retail, Living Social

And we’ve added some great session speakers, including:

John Gregory, Chief Category Development Officer, AOL
JonPaul Rexing, director of sales, ESPN Local
Kevin Vanes, director, national sales and partnerships, Angie’s List.
Meribeth Papuga, Exec VP and Director of Local Activation, MediaVest

The centerpiece of the conference is several key sessions where we go deep on search, geotargeting, digital agencies, cross channel and loyalty programs. Leaders will share their local insights from top franchise groups and brands representing most of the top local verticals, including auto dealers, real estate, restaurants/dining, health services, insurance, travel, consumer packaged goods, moving and cleaning. The companies appearing include a vital cross- section of U.S. commerce:

AAA of the Carolinas
Aflac
AutoTrader
General Mills
Genghis Grill
McKesson Health
Maid Right
Scion
Two Men and a Truck

Will you join the BIA/Kelsey local community in Atlanta? Register

GrubHub IPOs: GrubHub and the ‘Food’ Segment

photo courtesy of Crain’s Chicago Business

All eyes are on “local” this morning on Wall Street, with GrubHub’s IPO off to a great start. The company has placed 7.4 million shares priced at $26, or $192.4 million. The shares closed at $34.

We’ve been watching GrubHub’s IPO with real interest. The Chicago-based online take out ordering company – which merged last August with Seamless, its primary competitor – represents a key local “food” anchor, along with Open Table, UrbanSpoon, Groupon (reservations); Yelp and Google+ (reviews); and eventually, Amazon, WalMart, Google,eBay, TBD (grocery delivery).

It has 28.8K restaurants and 135,000 daily orders. Forty-three percent of its activity now takes place from mobile devices, a key metric in this space which relies on impulse purchasing. The company has operations in most major U.S. cities, but is strongly penetrated in several.

In this area, which might loosely be termed as “food,” the silos are falling fast – they each do a little of each. We expect to see a major land grab by the key players that are already in the space, and the possible addition of other tech and retail players.

At its most basic level, GrubHub views, confirms and tracks food orders, It makes its money from commissions of roughly 10-12 percent. Last year, it made $137 million. But the company’s value extends beyond order taking. It acts as a giant search and discovery engine that can bring customers back to locations, and recommend others when they are in the mood for something else.

The cost to use GrubHub is relatively high. There have been anecdotes in the press about some restaurants quitting GrubHub, seeing a drop in orders, but making higher profits. Obviously, these reports are not the general consensus, as the company continues to grow.

But the best way for restaurants to justify its cost is if they chalk it off as a promotional expense. GrubHub executives like to point out that it is ultimately cheaper and more retentive to spend on GrubHub than on a deals site such as Groupon, with its high commission structure taking 30-50 percent, on top of high discounting off menu prices.

While GrubHub has a nice lead in this space for now, the key for it now will be to extend its brand and reach. Its brand awareness remains low, and it is mostly known among niches such as office workers and college students. The company’s current competitors include Delivery.com, which claims a roster of almost 10,000 restaurants in 50 cities; and Eat24.com, which covers 20,000 restaurants in 1,000 cities across the country.

We’ll be watching for activity from companies such as Yelp, Google and other players too, either via start up or acquisition.

BIA/Kelsey’s Discussion with New ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands


ReachLocal today announced the appointment of longtime B2B and information services leader Sharon Rowlands as CEO, replacing interim CEO David Carlick, who remains chairman; and founding CEO Zorik Gordon, who left in December 2013 and is pursuing his vision for ClubLocal, a consumer-facing home service that has been spun off by ReachLocal. Groupon is among the lead funders of ClubLocal .

Rowlands, a 20+ year industry veteran is an English native currently based in New York. She is on the board of Constant Contact and previously served in many leadership capacities, including as CEO of Penton Media, the B2B publishing and events giant; and as President of Thomson Financial and The Financial Times.

In a conversation with BIA/Kelsey last week, Rowlands noted that she was drawn to ReachLocal’s efforts to provide SMB digital marketing services because the publicly-owned company has achieved “scale and a global footprint.” The SMB market has tremendous potential but “it is going through significant change,” said Rowlands. “SMBs must be overwhelmed with all the options facing them. I really think there is an opportunity to partner with SMBs and solve their problems in a more coherent way.”

One of the keys to Reach’s growth – and keeping its current base of 23,900 customers from churning — is to segment the market correctly, adds Rowland. “There is a lot of difference between someone signing up with one or two employees and someone with 30. The one-size-fits-all-approach is not the right approach,” she said.

The company is also seeking to develop more sticky tools for its customers, including ReachEdge, a comprehensive marketing solution that begins a $399 a month and now has over 1,000 SMB customers; and ReachSEO, a new search package. ReachEdge is also useful for attracting new customers – 65 percent of those signing up were not a prior customer of ReachLocal.

Saleswise, Reach has historically been focused on premise sales. But the company will now embrace “the whole breadth of go to market approaches, including telemarketing, partnership and ‘handholding,’” Rowlands said. “There is not one segmentation lens.”

The company is also moving beyond its emphasis on search solutions, which currently makes up 85 percent of revenue. While traditional search remain a strong anchor, discovery tools must make room for social media, which are increasingly important, Rowlands noted.

Sharon Rowlands, CEO, ReachLocal

Local Market Launch Pushes on Discovery for National Brands, Local Markets

National brands, franchises and multi-location outlets often lose business by only providing standard name/address/phone number information, instead of focusing more on discovery search, says Local Market Launch CMO Gideon Rubin. “Name, address, phone information only represents 15 percent of searches. If you know ‘Subway,’ you can look it up,” he says.

But the real market opportunity is in the discovery market, which constitutes 85 percent of searches. “What we do is add keywords and categories that increases the likelihood of showing up in non-branded searches,” he says. “We’ll add the name of the sandwich or other menu details. That creates additional revenues for merchants. It is a really large opportunity.”

Listings, LAT/long information, pictures and reviews are other key data points that national brands must keep up to date across all the search engines, adds Rubin.

Local Market Launch primarily works with digital agencies and certified marketing reps that have national brand accounts. It wins accounts after finding missing information for national brands during search audits of local locations. It all comes down to “completing the process of delivering products,” Rubin says.

The company also does a lot of work helping large, multi-location businesses claim listings. Many have locations that never show up, says Rubin. LML will work on them individually, adding them to sites such as Yelp, Bing and Google.

LML has just raised a new $1 million round led by former ValueClick execs Jim Zarley and Steve Umberger, adds Rubin. The revenue will help fund the Santa Barbara company’s expansion effort.

Rubin is speaking on search issues, along with LocalVox CEO Trevor Sumner and YP VP Chuck Lee at LIL: The National Impact May 7-9 in Atlanta. Register here