Goby: Go Mobile (and Go Social,) Event Marketers

Local consumers are looking beyond pure search when they are looking for family fun. That’s the unmet need that Boston-based Goby.com is trying to meet in its 350 category, events and family fun search site. The site is now reaching 500,000 unique visitors a month — double the number from our prior writeup of the company in March 2010.

CEO Mark Watkins tells us that the 10-person startup, which has raised $7.5 Million from Flybridge Capital Partners and Kepha Partners, including $2.5 million in October, has evolved from its roots as a local search engine. “We’ve been making it more of a social experience, and have started focusing more on mobile,” he says.

The key is to move beyond a pure search experience, which on the Web, is pretty much owned by Google. “Google is such a good aggregator of intent,” he says. Mobile audiences are much smaller, and (user) intention is really much more fragmented. User needs aren’t as easily met by a one-stop mobile search site.

At the same time, people have deeper relationships with mobile, Watkins says. Mobile apps that integrate with Facebook and allow users to share information with each other are likely to be more successful with audiences. Not that it is “either-or.” There is also a real connection between web usage and mobile usage, Watkins says. People might make a list on the Web for use later on mobile.

For these reasons, the mobile apps are more likely to attract regional chains as advertisers, as well as national marketers, such as the movie studios. Disney, for instance, has been running a mobile ad campaign with Goby for its release of Tron – the company’s first direct sell. “They’re very interested in mobile, even though it has a smaller audience than the Web.”

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