All posts by Peter

Salesforce’s Randy Wootton at BIA/Kelsey SFO: Avoiding Local’s ‘Creepy Valley’

Marketers have lots of disparate information about consumers they are targeting, but if they don’t put it together in a consumer friendly way, it quickly becomes an offputting “Creepy Valley of Local Marketing” that is counter productive, said Salesforce VP RandyWootton in a keynote address at BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media event at San Francisco Airport.

Citing GoDaddy’s Blake Irving for inventing the “Creepy Valley” moniker, Wootton noted that “where it gets weird is when there are things that target you” and are really not consistent with good Customer Relationship management principles. It becomes especially worrisome in a mobile environment where there are no barriers.

The solution? Provide all services in the cloud, where several layers of services can be easily mediated. “The cloud is the democratization of the marketing world – although local marketers aren’t taking advantage of it yet. When you cross the creepy valley, you havea different relationship” with your customers,” says Wootton.

BIA/Kelsey SFO: Home Depot,Thumbtack, Serviz Weigh in on Home Improvement

Home improvement services is a wild new frontier that has just scratched the tip of its potential, according to segment leaders at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media event at San Francisco Airport.

“ServiceMagic/Home Advisor is (only) a couple of hundred million dollars. Angie’s has never made a profit. The market is ripe but no one is there yet,” said Home Depot Silicon Valley leader Anthony Roddio, who also serves as GM of the company’s Red Beacon contractor scheduling service. “The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is repeat business.”

Roddio noted that a real opportunity for the industry is that many millennials have moved away from DIY. “For some, their idea of a home project is upstreaming iTunes in the living room,” he said. But Home Depot is traditionally geared around DIY. The company hasn’t done enough to develop ‘Do it For Me’, said Roddio.

Serviz leader Zorik Gordon, the former ReachLocal leader, said that the void in the industry is that the segment is not transparent. Serviz will move away from unreasonable 300-500 percent upsells, and provide price charts, and reviews; it will also assign contractors, said Gordon, who says the startup will move beyond southern California, where it launched in July, and will reach 10-20 cities by the end of 2015.

Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta noted that his company recently raised $100 million from Google and others. “What Google and others saw in us is that we have created a unique platform,” he said. “We have 600 unique categories.”

Thumbtack is taking a different approach than Serviz and The Home Depot’s Red Beacon in that it doesn’t assign jobs to service pros or collect money for jobs. Focusing on moving the money is “not the indicator” for the success of a transactional marketplace, he said.

Uber Tests 10 Minute Delivery Service

The big online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Groupon and WalMart have been focusing on developing same day delivery channels. Same day delivery is an effort that that may not only boost their edge over other retailers, but also add new anchor channels such as groceries, and also boost impulse sales.

We’ve also seen other players experiment with delivery. The San Diego Union Tribune, for instance, has tested delivery of coffee beans with the morning newspaper. Newspapers have been also a channel for free CPG samples with Sunday newspapers for years.

Now along comes Uber, in the midst of an ocean of bad publicity. It is testing a 10 minute delivery program called Uber Essentials, which is an evolution of an earlier Uber delivery test. The program allows under- utilized drivers to drop off key items from Flu medicine to toothpaste to birth control. The items are roughly the same price as local stores. As with Uber car service, items(and tips) are automatically charged to Uber accounts. One possible hangup: Customers must meet their Uber driver on the street. They also cannot deliver alcohol.

The program is being launched with a free order up to $20, has a tie-in with a free sample of Dunkin Donuts packaged coffee – illustrating a potential advertising opportunity.

‘Selling Services on Amazon’ Launches Beta in Nine Markets

After months of rumors, Amazon has entered the increasingly crowded service pro referral space with a beta test in nine markets. According to a dedicated web site for the launch, service pros will pay Amazon 20 percent for services that cost $1000 or less, and 15 percent above that amount, as well as monthly subscription fees – although those fees are waived through June 2015. The 20 percent fees are comprised of 15 percent service platform fees, and 5 percent transaction fees.

The service is launching with a strong focus on consumer electronic installation and repair, fitting with sales on the Amazon site. Auto and bike services are also featured, with more categories likely to be added. All pros must undergo background checks, which will cost $50 (plus $40 per employee); have appropriate licenses, and carry insurance. All listings will also feature Yelp reviews as well.

Amazon will be competing against a number of other players in the space, including market leaders such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor; Pro.com, a new site launched by former Amazon exec Matt Williams; Serviz, a new site launched by former ReachLocal exec Zorik Gordon; and The Home Depot’s Red Beacon service.

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The BIA/Kelsey/CardLinx Survey: Momentum For Card Linked Offers

Will card-linked offers supplement coupons and advertising for national and local merchants and services? Will financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies take advantage of their access to card data to become major players in ecommerce and media as well? And will cash back remain the primary driver of the card-linked offer space?

These are some of the key questions we asked in an anonymized survey we have just completed with members of The CardLinx Association, whose roster include such companies as Microsoft, Facebook, Bank of America, MasterCard, American Express, First Data, Cardlytics, Living Social, Deem and Linkable. Some non-members also participated in the survey, which had 14 respondents in total.

One key finding: this space appears to have momentum. While some startup publishers have ceased their operations, others have dug in. And more merchants and consumers are participating in card-linked offers than last year. Respondents also noted that card-linked offers have gone from representing “experimental” marketing budgets to – in some cases — seven figure contracts.

Survey results will have their public debut at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media Conference Dec. 3-5 in San Francisco. The session also includes interviews with CardLinx Association CEO Silvio Tavares and Cardlytics CMO Kasey Byrne.

Angie’s List Goes ‘Mobile First’

Angie’s List, which has recently seen a deterioration in its stock as investors have lost confidence in its ability to grow its premium subscription and ad model, has announced that it has gone Mobile First. The changeover is significant because the company, which has nearly three million users, has continued to support a wide variety of media. Many years after other companies went all digital, for instance, Angie’s has continued to provide personalized phone referrals to its well heeled (and older) home owner customer base.

The move to mobile first is accompanied by the launch of a new mobile app, which offers “concierge level” help for consumers seeking to hire the right service and medical professionals. It provides research for providers; shop for specific home improvement services; and “SnapFix” a project, automatically assigning service pros to projects based on specifications.

“We studied our members’ behavior and directly asked them what they want from us,” noted a company press release quoting founder Angie Hicks. “As a result, we’re not just connecting them to highly rated service companies through a swipe or a click, we’re stepping into the transaction, improving their experiences start to finish.”

A press note added that the new efforts are “symbolic of the corporate shift from just providing highly reliable information to getting in the middle of transactions to make the hiring process easier and the results better, faster.”

We’ll be diving deep into the future of Home Improvement services with local digital leaders from The Home Depot, Thumbtack and Serviz on Day 1 of the Leading in Local conference in San Francisco Dec. 3-5. You may register here.

Leading in Local Update: 50 Speakers Are Set (Dec. 3-5, SFO)

The end of the year usually means a few things to us: the holidays; our annual predictions; and Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media, the industry’s flagship event.

This year’s event is especially hot — a 2 1/2 day extravaganza taking place Dec. 3-5 in San Francisco. More than 50 speakers have been recruited by the analyst team, and we’ve added some great extra-curricular activities, including a Tech Expo with top companies showing off their wares “Before The Bell” on Day 1; a Women’s Leading in Local networking event on day 2; and an International Roundtable.

Here’s our newest news: BIA/Kelsey Analyst Emeritus Matt Booth (currently CEO, Connectivity) is coming back to moderate one of two Executive Sessions with Google leaders. We’ll kick off with Managing Director of Global Channel Sales Todd Rowe, than go deep in conversations with Head of premier SMB partnerships Christine Merritt; Adwords Express Product Manager Francisco Uribe; Google My Business Senior Product Manager James Croom; and Global Business Leader for Google Shopping Max Frause.

We also have feature presentations set by YP CMO Allison Checchi; Deseret Digital Media CEO Clark Gilbert and President Chris Lee; Yodle CEO Court Cunningham; Pinterest Head of Partnerships Joel Meek; and Salesforce VP Randy Wootton.

We are also set with a great discussion between me and Business Book of the Year Winner Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. And then there are the feature presentations by First Data SVP Krish Mantripragada; InfoGroup CDO Matt Graves; and Go Daddy SVP Raj Mukherjee. And we’ve also got a great, seven company Superforum dedicated to local’s most important issue: “Make the Phone Ring.”

There’s so much more. Check out the Full agenda. Register here.