Category Archives: Classifieds

Digital First ‘Complements’ Cars.com with Tracking, Other Services

What does a newspaper company do when it loses its affiliation with a major vertical brand? That was the question for The San Jose Mercury News and some of the other Digital First Media papers on New Years Day, when the company’s partnership with Cars.com ended.

The Digital First newspapers knew that most car dealers wouldn’t want to abandon an existing relationship with a partner like Cars.com, a major source of leads and online presence. The answer? Change the value proposition that local car dealers had with the newspaper. For instance, it could complement the Cars.com relationship by developing a service agency-like model. Specifically,it could track where the dealers’ leads came from, and provide actionable information about these active car shoppers.

To this end, Digital First signed up with Cupertino-based TapClassifieds, and its growing, 15 person TapClassifieds Auto division. As part of its program, TapClassifieds evaluates websites, landing pages, text emails and credit applications as they come in. It also clean ups a dealer’s inventory to make landing pages more aesthetic, and to track results.

Tracking dealer results from Craig’s List – a major channel for dealer visibility and source of leads — has proved especially important. The site switched to a premium classifieds model Dec. 3, killing a dealer’s ability to “spam” the site –along with a dealer’s rivals. Consequently, dealers needed to review their efforts on Craig’s List, and pursue alternatives.

Another major task for TapClassifieds: make sure that listings on sites like Craig’s List and eBay Motors are compliant with their regulations. They must remain compliant with the site’s terms of use or see their accounts shuttered without warning or recourse.

“It’s a far cry from the old days, when people would just want to see inventory,” said TapClassifieds COO Jeff Herr, a longtime digital newspaper vet who left MediaNews Group two years ago to join the startup. “There are many, many tasks that you need to do to support the dealer. We are a service bureau.” Pricing for the service runs $15 per month per car, adds Herr.

Digital First has been testing the model with Bay Area auto dealers, and it has now announced a strategic partnership to take the program across all of its markets. DFM properties in Philadelphia, Connecticut, Texas and New Mexico are already up and running.

For TapClassifieds, Herr says that autos are the tip of the iceberg. RV Dealers, real estate and vacation rentals will each launch soon. “Real estate is unplowed Earth,” he notes.

LIL ILM: Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving Focuses on ‘Discoverability’

 

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said during his opening keynote at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media in San Francisco that the world’s leading domain registrar with 12 million, mostly SMB customers is moving beyond the “polarizing tactics” it has used to get attention in its early days, and changing its brand image and marketing approach.

We’re about a lot more as a company,and Go Daddy is really about helping people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures,” he said. A lot of the company’s attention is about discoverablity, he added. “Discoverability is key to customer acquisition.”

Discovery marketing moves people from selection to intent to purchase to loyalty. The goal is to make it actionable, said Irving. Omnichannel Web and mobile services are a major part of this.

While the company is adding new services such as Locu, it is also adding to its traditional registration businesses. GTLDS domains enable micro targeting, with such entries as “.Luxury” and “.Camera,” he noted. Such efforts are likely to boost the company’s average customer value, which is $123 a year. Acquisition costs are running the comapny around $45. Figures are consistent around the world, he said.

Antengo Pushes on Mobile Classifieds: ‘Websites Mean Nothing to Us’

1_480x800_WinPhone_LoadScreen copy (2)

Vertical sites such as AutoTrader, Cars.com, Zillow and Trulia that provide listings, services and features are seeing a large share of their user base move to mobile. But all-in-one classifieds sites in the mode of Craig’s List, Pennysaver, Recycler.com, newspapers and alt weeklies haven’t moved as fast to mobile.

Can a mobile all-in-one approach (i.e. native apps) gain traction? We were sorry to see the drop out last October of Eggdrop.com, a mobile classifieds site that had started to see some traction.

But we’re still gung-ho on mobile classifieds. Mobile is an especially effective mobile channel, given its immediacy; geo-location capabilities; ties to social media ratings/reviews; and ability to be programmed for automatic notifications when items are added or sold.

Several companies, in fact, are pushing hard to build out a mobile-first classifieds marketplace. Among them: Antengo. The San Diego startup, known to its fans as “Ant,” was launched in 2010 by a Microsoft Advertising Network vet and a classifieds entrepreneur who built Barefoot Student and another successful vertical classifieds site.

Antengo has seen over 250,000 downloads of its Android and iPhone apps and seven million listings, with 30 percent average monthly growth across 2012. ” The site is available on iOS, Android and, soon, Windows Phone. It and is entirely focused on mobile.

“A website means nothing to us,” says cofounder Marcus Wandell (the Microsoft vet). “We’re taking an Instagram approach.” Everything traces back to the mobile device. (Users) don’t have to share phone numbers or emails to instantly coordinate location-based deals that save them money.”

While decidedly listings-centric, user profiles are emerging organically via Facebook sign-ins (which account for 36 percent of traffic). By 3Q, user profiles, verified seller status and other forms of marketplace transparency will emerge in the apps. This moves Antengo closer toward an area pioneered by Oodle using Facebook friends for classifieds. Oodle was sold last month to QVC.

Trulia’s S1: Strong Focus on Monthly Fees, Mobile Monetization

Trulia, which provides real estate Web and mobile leads, display advertising and real estate-oriented social media services, has followed in the footsteps of its rival, Zillow, and issued an S1 in preparation for going public and raising $75 Million.

Zillow’s IPO has been highly successful – it went out last July at $20 and is now around $35 a share, having fallen a little. Trulia is betting it can be an even stronger longterm player. The issuing of the S1 suggests the end of a great deal of industry speculation that Google or other players would buy Trulia.

The S1 provides a gold mine of new information for connoisseurs of vertical and local service data. Trulia reports that a spending surge in preparation for going public has pushed it to 22 million monthly unique visitors and 21,544 buyers, or “subscribers,” to its real estate marketing bundles – a number that has risen 46 percent since June 2011, and has plenty of potential upside with a pool of 360,000 real estate pros claiming Trulia profiles.

While the company earned $29 million in the six month period ending June 30, 2012, the spending surge has led to consistent losses and an accumulated deficit of $43.8 million. But the company feels its fundamentals are strong, even in the depressed real estate spending environment, as more and more marketing efforts move to digital. It sees a fragmented digital marketplace where its principal rivals are Zillow and Realtor.com, the longtime online real estate leader.

Average subscriber monthly spend has jumped up to $140 from $90 last year, as Trulia has kept adding more services to its bundle. Display advertising, meanwhile, has become a relatively smaller part of the mix – 32 percent — although it’s overall spending has stayed even and it appears to have good prospects to attract business from real estate and consumer brand marketers seeking to get consumers in a house buying mode (or rental.)

Trulia’s monetization of mobile services gets a special focus in the S1 – something that investors will notice after Facebook’s well publicized issues with mobile monetization, which was a major industry wakeup call.

The company reports that since launching mobile in May 2012, it “is monetizing its mobile products at a higher rate than web products.” Moreover, “users are more likely to contact real estate professionals through our mobile applications than our website.” Mobile now accounts for 20 percent of overall user traffic.

New at ILM West: Google, Facebook, SoLoMo Day +++

ILM West is shaping up to be one of the great ones. Taking place Dec. 12-14 in downtown San Francisco, ILM West really reflects a sea change in local marketing from advertising to the new hybrid model of advertising and commerce (i.e. prepaid deals, reputation management, mobile app sales etc.).

We’ve made some big additions since our last update, starting with Google and Facebook. These add to the existing lineup, including our “rock stars” (Clear Channel CEO and industry legend Bob Pittman AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, Media News Group/Journal Register CEO John Paton and Deseret Media and former Harvard Business School Professor Clark Gilbert), and major sessions on deals, offers, verticals and the whole spectrum of local trends.

We will pursue three unique angles on Google at ILM West:

1- The local efforts, under Marissa Mayer’s local team. Jeff Aguero, head of local marketing, will present on everything local, from Zagat, to Google Places, to the Big G’s new “Get Online” program for SMBs. These strategies have really developed since this summer.

2- The global reseller effort. Global Channels head Todd Rowe will engage in an in-depth conversation with BIA/Kelsey President Neal Polachek on all his efforts.

3- Google Mobile. Mobile and Local Search exec Surojit Chatterjee will provide insights into this critical area for Google as part of our All SoLoMo morning on Day 3.

We’re also going deep with Facebook at ILM West. Facebook’s new local leader Matt Idema is our afternoon keynote on Day 2, with a lot of new details and a progress report on the local and vertical strategies. On Day 1, we are also taking a special look at working with Facebook’s platform with execs from Trada, Oodle and Kenshoo Local/Social weighing in. Eager but not sure how to play with Facebook? You will be when ILM West is done.

The SoLoMo event on Day 3 itself is going to be quite the cornerstone for ILM West. Curated by the research teams from our Social Local Media and Mobile Local Media programs, SoLoMo features top line data; and indepth and fresh looks at SoLoMo implementations from leaders at Google, AT&T Interactive, Zaarly, PayPal, XAd, JiWire and AppStack (Steve Espinosa’s new project.)

You can see the full agenda here. And register here.

Remember: We are making a donation to the SF/Marin County Food Bank for all registrations that come in by Thanksgiving.

Mobile Seen as ‘Better Platform’ for Used Goods

When you get beyond the limited form factor of mobile, it really turns out to be a better platform for creating, managing and bidding on used goods, says Dan Zheng, a co-founder of EggDropApp, a new mobile-based auction service. Mobile is fast, geo-location oriented, fun and can be programmed for automatic notifications when items are added or sold.

“Selling stuff online is really hard,” says Zheng, who previously served an 8-year stint at Google. But that’s no excuse for leading solutions like Craig’s List or eBay to basically stand still in the midst of the mobile revolution. “You can’t even provide feedback” on Craig’s List, he notes. Buyers also can’t tell if items are active. Or make a counter offer. “Buyers always want to make a counter-offer,” he says.

EggDrop, which is now operating in the U.S. and U.K., has been set up as a falling price auction. Items are put up for a set price, and shows to users within an 80 mile radius so they can be personally picked up, rather than shipped. If an item doesn’t sell, the price automatically drops at a certain point. And then again, and again, until it does sell (hence “EggDrop.”) Buyers can see who is interested in an item, and can play chicken until someone actually pays the price.

“There is definitely a games mechanism here,” says Zheng, who notes that he envisions the service appealing to both “busy pros” and “garage sale” frequenters. “People are interrupt-driven,” he says.

The four person company has some venture funding and isn’t currently seeking partnerships. Instead, it is focusing on building itself up as a destination site, initially for Android and iOS. While the service is free, it expects to eventually go to premium models for larger merchants, such as furniture merchants and car dealers.

New Era for Local Shopping Portals; Travidia Launches ‘FindnSave’

Shopping portals have moved beyond “federated search,” and now combine the best of daily deals, coupons, weekly ads and other promotional information in ways that are more efficient — and drive more shopping.

At the national level, Gannett’s ShopLocal.com has been moving in this direction for some time. At the local level, we’ve recently seen the launch of Local.com’s multi-pronged shopping portal. The daily deal and coupon aggregators such as The Deal Map, 8Coupons, Deal Radar and Yipit probably also qualify as shopping portals, too.

New to the game is FindnSave.com, an effort by Travidia, the digital media vendor that works with 700 newspapers. Two McClatchy sites are currently launched: The Sacramento Bee and The Kansas City Star. Next up are McClatchy newspaper sites in Charlotte, Fort Worth, Fresno and Tacoma.

Travidia Chief Marketing Officer James Green says the newspaper sites have seen an immediate and dramatic increase from their previous shopping areas, which had a lot of information but were not presenting shopping information as efficiently. “They caused consumers to go off in a million directions,” he notes. “Consumers just want the best deal, regardless of the source.”

With newspapers, however, one size doesn’t fit all, Green emphasizes. Some newspapers have different vendor deals locked in, while others want to emphasize different types of information. Both The Sac Bee and KC Star, for instance, feature Groupon deals, Milo.com inventory information and standard features such as a Twitter board of local shopping Tweets.

But The Sac Bee also opted to include online coupons, while the KC Star opted out of online coupons. Such customization isn’t always easy to pull off: most shopping related vendors don’t have an API that can make them easier to plug in their feed.

The result is that FindnSave has been developed as more of a customizeable platform, rather than a turnkey site. Its primary feature is the development of “search blocks” that are integrated on top of the database, and extract relevant information.

Is it better than the competition? Green believes that FindnSave has a competitive edge via the newspapers’ localized information, plus the deep integration of the platform. Eventually, it will integrate various types of shopper-related content as well, such as local shopping blogs, ratings and reviews.

Another asset cited by Green is FindnSave’s easy verticalization, which can be used to create entirely new online vertical properties. The Sac Bee , for instance, is using the product to create a dedicated grocery portal. The portal will feature a slightly different User Interface, as well as a combination of newspaper and syndicated content.

Ultimately, FindnSave has been “ten years in the making for us,” says Green. “It’s been a natural evolution. The bottom line is we are not trying to facilitate e-commerce; we are trying to facilitate in-store traffic.”