This Fall’s Local Events: What to Look For


There are lots of competing events taking place this Fall for the local community. Among them: LSA’s Place conference in Chicago (Sept. 21), The Street Fight Summit in New York (Oct. 25), Borrell’s Local Online Advertising Conference in San Francisco (Nov. 1-2), Yext’s Location World conference in New York (Nov.2-3), and BIA/Kelsey’s Next Conference in Boston (Dec. 5-7).

All these events have their own nuances. But they share a focus on maximizing local targeting and sales, and anticipating the set of next trends.

Since the late 1990s, we’ve actually run through a lot of themes for what’s next and core in local. A short list would include directory, personalization, search, mapping, digital out of home, hyperlocal, vertical, online video, mobile targeting/geolocation, omnichannel, social, deals, marketplaces, big data, transaction marketing, national to local, on demand, delivery, programmatic and Martech.

Here’s my question: Are there any big themes for this Fall’s shows that will make people say: “whoa, we need to do this?” I don’t know that there is a single theme emerging. The industry frankly seems like a friendly blob. Everything is additive, but nothing dominates.

With this in mind, I bugged all the other conference producers – colleagues and competitors over the years — to tell me why the events are going to be special and not the same ol’ same ol’.

Gordon Borrell was the first to weigh in. “There’s a sort of marketplace bulimia that’s been created by trying to absorb all the new and upcoming things that might be worth worrying about and failing to see the opportunities right in front of everyone’s noses,” says Gordon.

It’s not just about picking up Facebook’s crumbs, either. Borrell’s event will take a “don’t try to beat ’em; join ’em” attitude, with an emphasis on how broadcast or print media, combined with Facebook campaigns, are delivering phenomenal results. “There are always new players trying to get in between all those 91,000 ad-sales reps and those 22 million SMBs out there,” says Gordon.

BIA/Kelsey’s Rick Ducey says the ideal conference narrative consists of: Part 1 – what’s the big picture?; Part 2 – who’s doing what about it?; Part 3 – what should I do?

Local is facing sort of an identity crisis. “’Location’” is the unruly teenager that is disrupting what we’ve comfortably defined as ‘local’ for decades,” he feels. “Local has one whole paradigm associated with it, and Location has another if fast-evolving paradigm.”

And of course….there is a blob of solutions out there. But the best way to see beyond the blob is to focus on the rise of platform vs. point solutions. “This really boils down to two key thoughts,” says Rick. “(A) your single vendor solution better work with other single vendor solutions on some platform or another; and (B) big companies and investors will continue trying to get to scale via innovation, partnerships and M&A to be THE platform.”

“Marketers must creatively and effectively manage consumer touchpoints all along their purchase journey,” he adds. “The Adtech, Martech and data science driving exciting new changing in the space are pretty incredible.”

To Streetfight’s David Hirschman, the key is to take stock of local’s very real progress, and build on it. “A lot of companies are making progress and going deeper, and coming closer to solving longstanding issues like attribution or automation in SMB sales,” he says.

What’s important to remember is that local remains a compilation of vertical approaches,” says David. “There isn’t really a great one-size-fits-all solution for local, and particularly, not for individual SMBs.”

What we know for sure is that the stakeholders at Streetfight Summit (and the other shows)—marketing vendors, tech companies, payment processors;, brands and agency reps, VCs and startup incubators – will each attend to get their roles sorted out, and hopefully, get some new business.

Contact Peter at for special discount codes to these events

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