Category Archives: Big Data

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.

Big Data at BIA/Kelsey, New Orleans: SMBs and Big Data ‘Sophistication’

SMBs are increasingly incorporating data analytics into their marketing efforts and not surprisingly, data vendors and service providers are working to entrench themselves with SMB digital marketing channels, as several industry leaders noted at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing in New Orleans Sept. 23.

For SMBs, “it is not about size, it is about sophistication,” noted InfoGroup CDO Matt Graves. “Sophistication is what matters in how SMBs target,” and may translate into such channels as multichannel buys and geo-targeting.

But SMBs are not easy to work with. “SMBs are our hardest customers,” says Graves. “They are not as forgiving as our larger customers. They want us to come up with a plan to help them be successful.”

Speaking on the same session, Radius VP Megan Austin Karlen cautioned that data cannot be treated as one homogenous category — it is a living organism with new inputs all the time. There is data at rest (volume); data in motion (velocity); data in many forms (variety); and data in doubt (veracity). You cannot settle on traditional firmographic segmentation, she noted. Data also needs to be paired with software that enables merchants to access, analyze and integrate data in a simple and effective way.”

Radius itself made news at the conference, announcing a Series C raise of $54.7 Million.

Facebook’s Joe Devoy, BIA/Kelsey New Orleans: ‘Pairing Advertising, Sales Data’

Facebook announced today an ambitious program to match sales related data from a variety of sources to show ROI. Speaking at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing event in New Orleans, Product Marketing Manager Joe Devoy noted that the program reaches out to Facebook users for feedback because sales results cannot really be ascertained from click thrus. The program is being tested with national advertisers, but is clearly aimed at SMBs, who make up the vast majority of Facebook’s 1.5 million advertisers.

“Within local, our misision is to create the most relevant ads for people on the platform, says Devoy. But “Measuring offline sales has always been difficult,” says Devoy. “Clicks don’t have an impact on the performance of the campaign.” Ninety- nine percent of people who saw an ad on Facebook and later went into the store never click on an ad.

The program’s ad exposure helps tremendously. There is a 70 percent higher ROI from campaigns that maximize reach, and an 8X return on ad spend, says Devoy. At the end of the day, “Facebook reaches the majority of consumers. We can reach any vertical,” he says.