Category Archives: Big Data

A Look at Amazon’s Entry Into Home Services

Amazon Home Services has been in beta since November and has now formally launched. The service will take on Angie’s List, Home Advisor and a slew of new players in the increasingly crowded home services space (i.e. Pro,com, Serviz, Home Depot’s Red Beacon, Thumbtack and apparently, Google.)

VP Pete Faricy told The New York Times that it now covers more than 700 types of services and has already entertained 2.4 million “serve offers.” A look at Amazon’s map identifies four highly developed core markets (Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles) and 36 moderately developed markets (and many more lightly-developed markets.)

All of Amazon’s “hand picked” pros that hope to work with Amazon 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. 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 fees and requirements are fairly standard in the industry.

What Amazon brings to the table is its brand and especially, a high volume of consumers. It is currently targeting its customers with an offer of a $20 gift card for first time users. It also has millions of merchant and consumer credit cards in its profiles, which can be a major advantage. Longer term, it has the potential to leverage its Local Offers business, which has been including service offers for some time. Amazon doesn’t, however, have an instant collection of merchants that are pre-inclined to work with it for marketing purposes.

It also doesn’t have the behavioral intelligence that informs its retail services,or its own reviews – although Yelp’s reviews will help it out here. There are always thoughts that Amazon would want to try to buy a service such as Angie’s List or Home Advisor to complement its efforts in these areas.

On the surface, it seems like a stretch for Amazon to enter home services. It could, of course, be an initial failure, like Amazon’s Fire Phone. (or a long term success, like Kindle and Amazon Web Services). But if you are thinking big…services are a key part of the local economy that Amazon is tackling for sales, leads, payments, hosting and other areas.

We note that many of the competitors in the space leverage the new models of Uber-like, Local On Demand Economy that BIA/Kelsey is focusing on at our June 12 NOW event. There is certainly plenty of potential. As Home Depot Silicon Valley head Anthony Roddio noted at our ILM 2014 event in December, “The market is ripe but no one is there yet.” Some estimates have penetration in this segment at under 10 percent.

LogMyCalls Acquires CallSource’s Media and Publishing Division

Marking an end of an era, CallSource has sold its media and publishing division to LogMyCalls (formerly ContactPoint.) The sale reflects several things about the evolution of the call management space – which remains absolutely vital to the local and SMB business communities.

First, it suggests that CallSource’s customer list, which includes many key Yellow Pages and vertical companies, remains deeply engaged in call tracking and is highly valued. It also suggests that CallSource’s principal business of tracking calls has begun to shift to conversation analytics and targeted leads.

This is where LogMy Calls comes in. The combination of the two companies is expected to reach new customers for LogMyCalls, and provide a lot of additional value for customers of both.

CallSource VP Geoffry Infeld, in a call with BIA/Kelsey, discussed the changing dynamics of the industry. “Call Source is all people power and crowd sourcing,” noted Infeld. The company, in its 25 year history, has come a long way from its roots as a performance training company which then focused on call tracking and finally all the things provided by a modern call center.

The key to the industry’s future success, however, is tied around being a solution provider to enterprise companies, said Infeld. “The data from voice calls must run parallel to the data that Google can capture and analyze” on the Web.”

LogMyCalls President and Founder Jeremiah Wilson elaborated further. “This space needs to get as much information from phone calls as it gets from emails and websites,” Wilson told us. ”The industry needs to focus on data, not call tracking.”

Wilson noted that the data around phone calls “keeps getting bigger.” And it is about much more than pay per call – although PPC does illustrate that phone calls drive a lot of value. Really, “It is really about big data,” said Wilson. With advanced calling analytics, companies can invest in call quality and strategy, rather than just calls” he said.

Analysis: Walmart’s Pull-out from Google’s Local Inventory Ads

Building ecommerce, promotions, search, social and same day delivery services around store inventory is one of those high concept ideas that always make so much sense but have been tough to build around. Key players in the space currently include Google, Retailigence and others. Others, such as eBay, have pulled out or shrunk their efforts.

We’ve been especially interested in Walmart’s decision last week to pull its feeds from Google’s Local Inventory Ads (formerly known as Local Product Listing Ads). Launched in 2013 to complement Google’s e-commerce oriented Shopping ads, the ads allow stores to highlight local inventory and prices, and point shoppers to specific stores. Macy’s, REI and Office Depot are among users of the Google service, but most top retailers are still not participating.

Some of those that do apparently have been holding their noses. To participate with Google, they need to provide comprehensive inventory information. Walmart and others have apparently worried this information could be used against them, showing retailers where they can compete on price against it in different parts of the country.

Perhaps more importantly, retailers are worried that their feeds are infrequently updated and can contain inaccuracies and steer shoppers down the wrong path. Such feeds also may freeze the ability of retailers to engage in variable pricing strategies (i.e. “one hour afternoon specials”). In our view, Walmart’s pull out doesn’t mean that Google and others can’t succeed. But it does mean that it will need to make adjustments to work with dominent retailers that have a lot at stake.

Are there better strategies to collect and leverage inventory at local stores? We’ll be talking inventory strategies with retail expert and former Krillion CEO Sherry Thomas-Zon at BIA/Kelsey NATIONAL in Dallas March 25-27.

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.

Money2020: ApplePay Drives Mega Event

The emergence of geo-targeting and mobile payment and wallet technologies has meant that we talk a lot less about the future of “advertising” than “marketing.” All this was crystal clear this week at the third annual edition of Money2020 in Las Vegas, a showcase for payment innovations, and a major boomtown, too. Attendance climbed from 4,000 attendees in 2013 to 7,500 attendees this year. Next year, the show will move to much larger quarters at The Venetian, and add a European edition.

BIA/Kelsey participated in this year’s festivities by presenting new research into card linking trends during a special offsite session hosted by The Cardlinx Association.

ApplePay – not part of the program, incidentally — was clearly the big driver of this year’s event, rebuilding momentum lost from earlier efforts by Google Wallet and others. As Visa President Ryan McInerney noted, the high awareness of ApplePay generally, and its use of tokenization has brought a real sense that payment technologies have moved beyond credit card account numbers towards high impulse and efficient transactions.

It will also help open the door to a new generation of payments, promotions and services – even if many features, such as NFC contactless payments, won’t be in widespread use for several years. Kicking off the show, McKinsey & Co.’s Philip Bruno and Kausik Rajgopal highlighted six major payment themes. These included:

1. Point of Sale evolution
2. Payment security
3. Crypto-currency
4. Globalization of commerce
5. New credit models
6. New partnerships and acquisitions

Things are happening very fast in this space, noted Bruno. It was just 17 years ago that ecommerce began. It has now crossed the trillion dollar mark.

American Express CEO Kenneth Chennault, during an opening interview, said that when it comes down to payment innovation, it all comes down to one thing: Merchants want to grow sales. Does the innovation “help merchants meet customer needs?” he asked. “Do they provide incentives for changing customer behavior?”

Chennault expressed confidence that Amex, for one, is providing marketing insights that “allow us to provide different types of promotions and offers to drive more business. Not just acceptance, but engagement,” he emphasized.

Other industry leaders also spoke about appealing to merchant needs. Heartland Payments CEO Bob Carr, for instance, said that they key thing with payment innovations is not to give advantages to a merchant’s best customers without disintermediating merchant margins. “The problem with othwerwise useful sites like OpenTable and GrubHub is that they disintermediate margins,” he said.

Money2020: First Data, Poynt Show Off Mobile POS Solutions


The Point of Sales revolution that began with Square’s introduction of its iPhone fob in 2009 has continued unabated. Rising consumer expectations, increased mobile and WiFi access and more tools have made POS a strategic tool that could not have been imagined a few years ago.

Among the new breed of solutions are ReachLocal’s ReachCommerce suite; Groupon’s Genome; Heartland’s Leaf; and First Data‘s Clover, which now has 26,000 terminals in the field after its initial release seven months ago.

First Data purchased Clover in October 2013. The tablet-based system was seen as the cornerstone of a new strategy that would update First Data’s reliable, table-based POS terminals. The acquisition of Clover was also designed to integrate with its Perka loyalty program, which was acquired at the same time; and its Insightics analytics.

At Money2020 in Las Vegas this week, First Data unveiled a new mobile -first extension of its Clover station. Poynt similarly showed off its own new mobile-first terminal. Both companies’ mobile terminals are attractive, Apple-like, white hardware mini-tablets. Clover boasts a handle to better hold on to its tablet, while Poynt features a large bump.

A major part of both their strategies is to accept a number of third party Apps. Clover now has dozens of Apps in its store and hopes to have 100 by year-end. The Apps often carry monthly add on charges of $5-10 a month, instead of just being sold for a flat fee, like consumer Apps. The Apps provide such features as employee punchcards; instant ratings and reviews; virtual giftcards; coupon managers; and charity donations. Clover and Poynt also boast printing options.

Acxiom ‘s Scott Howe, BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: ‘Almost Any Data Can Be Helpful’ for SMBs

“Not all data is created equal, but almost anything can be helpful,” said Acxiom CEO and President Scott Howe, who keynoted at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23. Now they can choose among connection speed, day part, geotarget, behavioral — or ideally, a multi-variable segment. If they can mix and match with a multi-variable, SMBs can see a lift approaching 6950 percent from unenhanced efforts.

“For so long, only thing SMBs could do to monetize was search, direct mail… things that allowed them to go a little granular… but they could not do what big guys did. Now they can,” said Howe. “But multichannel marketing works and should be a priority in your efforts. The best marketers know they need to do everything.”

Howe noted that SMBs are “nervous about this stuff” and often withdraw. But for digital resellers, it should be all about “test and learn, test and learn.”

Marketers can’t do anything, however, unless they get consumers to give permissions. Howe is confident that such permissions will be forthcoming. “Consumers want to have a voice,” said Howe.