Category Archives: Classifieds

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.”

eBay Firms Up Local Strategies

In case you haven’t noticed, eBay has been ramping up a local strategy in the past few months via the integration of all its vertical properties with its home site, the $75 million purchase of Milo.com, and today, a $200 million acquisition of Brands4Friends, a fashion-oriented, German ecommerce site with 3.5 million members and 200 employees.

EBay’s efforts to acquire new local and vertical properties and integrate them with the home site is a perfectly logical growth strategy. Despite its perceived decline in the marketplace, eBay in 3Q 2010 saw two billion U.S. product searches – well ahead of competitors such as Amazon, which saw 847 million product searches, and Google, which handled 226 million product searches over the same period.

The push into local certainly represents a major change for the company. In the last 1990s, eBay backed off of a comprehensive local strategy when it determined that a “Local Trading “ feature concentrating on items that were too heavy to ship (i.. sofas) didn’t have the traction to really work. Instead, it concentrated on building up eBay Motors, while adding various other verticals, such as Rent.com, an apartments site, StubHub, the ticket scalping site, and various classified services, such as Kijiji (eBay Classifieds), initially developed as a Craig’s List lookalike service.

More recently, eBay worked on a new prototype for a comprehensive local portal, using eBay Motors as a base, while including its various classifieds properties, as well as other services. But that effort seems to have gotten lost in the midst of major corporate changes.

Inevitably, however, eBay has continued to push up against local as it looked for paths to growth. Five years ago, it acquired a site that eventually became eBay Stores, which now competes with players such as Web.com.

Milo CEO and Founder Jack Abraham tells us that eBay is handling the absorption of his site at the highest level. CTO Mark Carges personally lead the acquisition effort, and VP of Engineering Dane Glasgow has been charged with the absorption. Abraham notes that the 25 person company’s small size makes it easy to move right onto the eBay campus. He also says that his team may be deployed on other eBay initiatives beyond local.

Oodle Buys Grouply: Moving The Social Graph Beyond (Just) Friends

Group software seems obsolescent in the social revolution. Or is it?

A few weeks ago, John Battelle’s Federated Media acquired Big Tent, the women’s group enabler with 1.3 million users. It apparently plans to target women with very specific advertising.

Oodle, the mega-classifieds platform, has now followed course, buying Grouply, which is described by TechCrunch as “a do-it-yourself social network built on top of Google Groups and Yahoo Groups.” Oodle isn’t disclosing how much it paid, but Grouply had been funded by VCs (including LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman) to the tune of $2.6 million.

So — What can you do with group software? Oodle CEO Craig Donato sees it as a first step to moving social media beyond just friends. He notes that groups bring in different kinds of conversations in a social context, whether people are giving things away, want to talk to other mothers, or share tips on recycling. Among “first degree friends,” there simply isn’t enough liquidity to engage in robust commerce, he hints.

While the social graph is still mostly about friends, the graphs are getting more complicated, adds Donato. “There are lots of circles, and lots of different affinities. The texture to the graph is incredibly important for commerce. The sweet spot is two or three degrees of separation. This might include friends of friends, college classmates or people from your home town.

AutoTrader Buys Kelley Blue Book

AutoTrader is paying a reported $500 million to acquire the assets of Kelley Blue Book. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2010.

On the surface, the acquisition of KBB is fairly straightforward. While AutoTrader provides its own research for consumers to value cars and check out reviews, Kelley Blue Book, is the gold standard in that segment, which also includes NADAGuides and Edmunds. AutoTrader says it plans to keep the Kelley Blue Book brands.

The acquisition, however, has interesting angles to it. Last year, KBB added The Trusted Marketplace, a used and new car site that put it in direct competition against other car portals, including AutoTrader, with which it had a two- year deal to provide leads. That deal, which succeeded a similar arrangement between KBB and Cars.com, was allowed to end six months early.

Redfin’s Glenn Kelman at Inman: 16 Markets by end of 2010


Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco yesterday that his “customer first” brokerage is likely to be in 16 markets by yearend 2010. The site is currently in 12 markets and employs 100 agents.

Redfin’s apparent progress is seen by some as evidence that the advantage goes to brokerages that minimize their risk (namely, keeping agents around that underperform). With Redfin, agents are on salary and don’t do prospecting. Instead, they focus on customer service, and are paid, in part, based on satisfaction levels.

“We’ve been doubling every year,” and have had a good run for the last 12-16 months, despite the bad economy, said Kelman. The last two months, however, have been flat as tax incentives have expired. Kelman further noted that the Bay Area is Redfin’s most profitable market, although Washington D.C. and Los Angeles are the company’s largest revenue producers.

Redfin got in the national press recently because one of the 10 Russian spies had been employed as an agent. Kelman noted that the Boston-based agent was “a very dedicated person. It didn’t gibe with the person selling homes for us.”