Top Takeaways from Marketplaces 2010

BIA/Kelsey’s Marketplaces 2010 conference has just ended after two-and-a-half days of fantastic presentations from 49 speakers; top-level research from our BIA/Kelsey team; and really great evening events from MojoPages and Acxiom/Moon Valley (we’re talking fire eaters and San Diego Bay cruises). Thanks especially to the 375+ attendees who came from 13 countries to San Diego for the event.

It is hard to focus on just a few learnings, but here are my top takeaways – none of which reflect anyone’s opinion other than my own.
1. “Game mechanics” have proven to be the breakthrough factor for sites such as Groupon and FourSquare. We’ll see game elements added to more and more sites.

2. Small businesses in some categories will hire marketing services to handle their social media obligations because they wouldn’t do it on their own. Pricing and outreach will be key here.

3. Distributed networks are a better model for scaling local content and sales than destination sites in many cases. City Grid from Citysearch is well poised to leverage this.

4. Google is not conspiring to wipe out local publishers and services by highlighting its own profile pages and seven packs. But in Google’s bid to provide super efficient links and more local sales, there is a creeping steerage to its own results. Maybe it needs to establish a publisher’s bill of rights.

5. Location Based Services will become more pervasive and go beyond “fun only” status as sites such as Taxi Magic figure out how to use them for things such as estimating cab fares.

6. Content creation services will successfully deploy huge armies of local/vertical contributors. But these will be largely motivated by self-promotion, rather than pay-by-usage (although everyone likes to be paid). That will be Christmas money. The creation services themselves have enormous potential to populate every kind of site. Content is royalty, if not king.

7. Home and Trade services are now moving to the Web in a major way. ServiceMagic has a major head start, but social features might move the viral needle and give a chunk of the market to new sites such as Alikelist and RedBeacon.

8. AOL may be able to breakthrough in hyperlocal with by virtue of a mega budget ($50 million) and scope (hundreds of communities). But it is going to need to maximize search optimization, links from AOL verticals and form top level partnerships with media companies and others.

9. Whole segments of classifieds have gone “free” via Craigslist. But a surfeit of new listings and premium opportunities still await those that successfully target via vertical and add relevant, enhanced features.

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