Category Archives: Conferences

Sneak Peek at BIA/Kelsey NEXT Show: 6 Things I’m Watching For

“End of Big” Author Nicco Mele Keynotes BIA/Kelsey NEXT Dec. 9-10

BIA/Kelsey’s December event has been local’s flagship, and always ahead of the curve in all of local’s iterations. It has been widely imitated, but never totally duplicated! I‘ve been producing it for a long time, but this year, handed it off in midstream. I’ll be moderating some great sessions, though, and the conference team has ended up with 52 hand-picked speakers, a Tech Expo and two full days of programming. Here are some of the things I’m most excited about:

1. The New Cut on Local and Community. Local’s still at the concept stage in a lot of areas. Why think small? Two leaders from USC’s groundbreaking Annenberg School (my alma mater) will point to the new directions in separate keynotes. First up is Nicco Mele, the author of The End of Big (2013), a tour de Force on “radical connectivity.” He’s also fresh from his stint as deputy publisher at The LA Times, where his team’s efforts to seize new initiatives in local had already produced major new revenue streams. He’ll have a lot to say about what’s going to work. Leading off Day 2 is Dr. Karen North, Director of Online Communities, a dynamic presenter who is focused on Millenial applications and behavior – you’ve heard, perhaps, these kids live on the phone?

2. Keynotes from Google and Facebook: The latest in local from the two dominators and trend setters in local. Danny Bernstein at Google is set to highlight its deep linking efforts (Google Now). He is sharing the stage with Button’s Chris Maddern and Local Seo Guide’s Andrew Shotland.

3. Big Thinking about MarTech: Big Data’s impact on local cuts many ways – analytics, leads, targeting, planning, But it’s only a subsegment of the broader “MarTech” movement. Those in the know attend Scott Brinker’s annual MarTech conference in Boston. Scott, who also runs ionactive, is going to focus on local and highlight what’s important and why for us at NEXT. He’ll be joined on stage by Surefire Social’s Chris Marentis.

4. The Mobile App-Driven Marketplace. The mantra is that it isn’t really about search right now, because Mobile apps are driving the marketplace. What’s that really mean for local? One of the best analysts I know is Mark Plakias, who has been running Orange’s think tank in Silicon Valley for several years. He’ll be joined by’s Paul Ryan and DialogTech’s Steve Griffith. This will be quite a session.

5. Local and The Internet of Things. We’ve been pondering iOT’s impact on local — when everything is linked, from transit cards to vending machines. So has the new venture, Instersection, which is a partnership from Google Ventures and former Bloomberg head and NYC Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. CSO Dave Etherington will provide insights on what they are up to. He’ll be joined on stage by Cisco’s Andy Noronha.

6. Close Up on The New Local Marketplaces. We’ve been saying for a long time that local marketing has gone beyond advertising. Now it’s “closing the loop” with transaction data, offer targeting and complete behavioral profiles reshaping the game. Groupon’s Dan Roarty, Microsoft’s Neal Bernstein and MOGL’s Jon Carder share their insights. Cardlinx CEO Silvio Tavares will add data and help me run this session.

Haven’t got your ticket yet? I have a *little* influence and can get you $400 off. Please use this discount code: LOCALONLINER. You may register here.

Money2020: Payments and The Internet of Things


The Internet of Things is all about connectivity; it is especially conducive to the world of payments. Branching out from prepaid information on transit cards (i.e. London’s Oyster Card), financial entities have sought to add efficiency, security, reliability and safety to micropayments via Internet of Things tech.

At Money2020 in Las Vegas this week, the demos were alive with iOT. MasterCard and Visa, especially, showcased a wide range of truly useful applications.

Over at MasterCard, contactless card gas pumps, vending machines and coinless washer/dryer machines were highlighted. Regarding the latter, a member of MasterCard’s St. Louis based labs unit noted they had done their homework, interviewing multi-unit apartment owners, who have found it a costly burden to collect coins from machines, prevent coin box break-ins and know when they were needing repair.

Gas pumps, meanwhile – a mainstay of Digital Out of Home applications – were not only seen as logical candidates for contactless payments, but also to manage loyalty points and print out targeted offers to mobile phones. (yes, DooH is made old hat by iOT.) Excentus’ Fuel Rewards – a loyalty program — is a likely beneficiary of such efforts. In 36 months, Fuel Rewards has attracted six million members, who made 22 million transactions.

Visa’s demo highlighted contactless cars, vending machines and coffee stands. Key to the latter: payments were made by contactlessly waving a hand under a scanner. The unique hand data (finger prints etc.) is suggested as a superior alternative to thumb ID. It isn’t seamless, yet. My large hands required several do-overs to get them properly filed. Eye scanners from Eye Verify that measure the whites of your eyes and retinas were also highlighted at the show.


Money2020: The Payment Leaders and Their Itch to Get into Marketplaces


The march towards a new generation of marketplaces was clearly in evidence this week in Las Vegas, as the 4th edition of Money2020 attracted a huge, 10,000+ person ecosystem of financial players that all want a piece of the new world of marketing, commerce and logistics.

In the new era, marked by mobile-based services, Uber and Apple Pay have shown the way for new payment processes: the former by tying together geolocation and an e wallet; the latter by signing up thousands of merchants to accept simplified payments on iPhones.

These companies plus Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Groupon, eBay, Twitter, Living Social and Foursquare have been among the dotcom and tech giants exploring the utilization of payments as part of a new breed of “transaction marketing.” Loyalty based plays such as Cardlytics, Edo Interactive, FiveStars, Belly and MOGL are also vying for a piece of the action.

What can be said is that everyone is evolving towards becoming some type of marketing integrators or platform. And services that are geared towards millennials need to get there quicker: millennials won’t do anything that isn’t geared around their phones.

Behind the scenes, billing and payment tech has actually been underpinning advances in business and social processes and lifestyles for generations – perhaps, in modern time, since Amex transformed from a pony express delivery company to a traveler’s cheque company. As recently as the 1980s, we saw how MCI’s revolutionary Friends and Family plan transformed MCI into a long distance giant.

The new generation of mobile-based, wallet-oriented payment services — combined with Internet of Things connectivity and biorhythm user authentication — will be triggering on demand services, promotions, loyalty, credit, loans, delivery/pickup, social media/reviews and back office features such as payroll.

As a show, Money2020’s growth has been spectacular. But in its 4th year, some wondered whether the Money2020 ecosystem has grown too fast too soon, and that “winter is coming” after a year that culminated in the launch of Apple Pay; the expected rollout of two IPOs; and major buy-ins from the dot com giants.

In truth, the industry’s not an overnight success – and the technology still needs to catch up (i.e. phone batteries that can stay powered up). Apple Pay and other mobile payment services have had modest growth in actual usage; First Data’s IPO was smaller than expected; and the loyalty programs have had trouble scaling merchants. In fact, there is real pessimism about Square’s upcoming IPS; and there’s been some retreat by the dotcoms, many of whom have realized that their role is less in banking and payments than in big data and marketing analytics.

Bain Capital Ventures Managing Director Matt Harris noted that all this talk of the “winter” amount to “nothing.” The opportunities are as rich as they’ve ever been conceived, he said.

In fact, everyone should hurry to assume their parts in the ecosystem. All the trends point to 2016 as the mobile payment industry’s probable tipping point. eMarketer’s Bryan Yeager suggests that mobile payments will grow 3x over 2015 – from $8.7 billion to $27.1 billion.

Banks, of course, are widely assumed to be the most vulnerable to disruption in the new environment. But at Money2020, they showed that they plan to fight back, while leveraging an enormous volume of customers that give them a headstart. Chase, for instance, has 94 million debit/credit card accounts. CEO Gordon Smith, in a keynote, said he’ll be able to preload all these accounts by mid -2016 with Chase Pay: a comprehensive new platform that lets customers pay for goods in store, online, over the air, or with a camera in app.

Capital One, similarly, has come out with Spark Business, a new SMB platform that takes an agnostic approach towards single source banking as it builds in analytic services, management features such as accountings, payroll and benefits. “Banks (only) solve banking problems,” noted Cap One’s Keri Gohman, head of Capital One’s Small Business Bank. “They aren’t developing for SMBs, they are going up from consumers, or down from corporate.” The new platform is “more powerful for adding more connections and partners,” she said.

The POS leaders also intend to fight back against the new breed of cloud-based providers. They’ll leverage their existing customer base – VeriFone, for instance, has 90,000 taxi and gas station screens around the world. Taxi passengers in Las Vegas, for instance, can opt to pay $3 to make a credit card payment, and receive local promotions at the same time.

But VeriFone will also work to add new capabilities, and open app stores that give them a new revenue stream for every kind of service. Its rivals in the POS terminal business – namely First Data’s Clover and Poynt – are also building App stores.

“The industry is on the cusp of something historic,” noted PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, who notes that PayPal has 107 million account holders around the world. “We can take basic transactions and make them faster, easier, more secure and most importantly, less expensive. We can truly democratize money. (We can) rethink what financial services can be in world of mobile and software. It is not (just) about tapping a phone or swiping a card. It is much more profound than that.”

@LocalOnliner: Day 1, BIA/Kelsey SMB (Hibu, Constant Contact, Home Advisor, Booker, YP)

Hibu USA CEO Kevin Jasper
1. Sales team is now 1,600, down from 4,500 peak. Bringing in new talent.
2. New customers we acquire today are almost exclusively digital.
3. Prints revs still more than half. Digital will surpass in next several quarters.

Constant Contact SVP Joel Hughes
1. $100 Constant Contact package cost breakdown: $85 FaceBook spend, $15 management fee.
2. Two changes in smb marketing are advances in audience targeting and rise of native advertising.

Peter Hutto
1. Three changes in SMB marketing: low cost tech, tools, data; massive, global audience platforms; digital consumption shifts.

Home Advisor CEO Chris Terrill

1. One million appointments forecast for Home Advisor in 2015, with service launched 6 months ago.
2. $350 mm anual rev, 7 quarters of accelerating growth, 12 years of consistent profitability.
3. “Multi vertical” vs. “focused vertical.” Best way to grow is focus on single vertical.

Booker CEO Josh McCarter
1. Retention we see (for service platforms)..churn is 3-6% a month. Booker’s is 1/2 percent.
2. Stand alone scheduling is insufficient…SMBs have real world needs” (for integration)
3. At Booker, we’re seeing 30% of (SMB) sales come from pen and paper. totally disconnected.
4. LocalCommerce Market: Less than 25 k: 15 m. More than $25k: 7.5 M.
5. Service businesss account for 60% of US GDP
6. “Local service commerce” cuimlination of online/offline to drive offline–encompasses all tools.

YP SVP Harpreet Marwaha
1. YP hiring 200-300 reps per month for past 6 months.

BIA Kelsey Data
1. 57% of SMBs use Facebook for marketing, per BIA/Kelsey survey.
2. 3,022 companies in the Local Verse.

Back to My Roots: Setting Up My Own Research and Consulting Shop

Effective October 1, my role with BIA/Kelsey will change from “Chief Analyst and VP” to “Advisor and Local Expert.” The change allows me to refocus on specific research and consulting areas and work on a case-by-case basis with chosen clients. I’ll be using Local Onliner as my hub for all communications.

Working with BIA/Kelsey has been a great privilege. I’ve been with the company now for 9+ years (and with The Kelsey Group for 2 ½ years before that). I hope to continue to work with the company and to benefit from its thought leadership and events for many more years.

BIA/Kelsey has given me fantastic opportunities and deep friendships in-and-out of the company – and allowed me, as the head of conferences, to work with conference attendees and the 1,000+ industry leaders who graced our stages. I am deeply honored that you have invested your time, thinking and money with us.

Thank you to Tom Buono and John Kelsey for supporting the research and conference development. And a special shout-out to my mentor Gary Arlen, who showed me the ropes in the nine years we had previously spent together at Arlen Communications Inc., and made sure to bring out the fun and intellectual excitement in all of our work.

As for my next steps in research and consulting, I look forward to reaching out to the community. You can also find me at several great events over the next couple of months. Here is my schedule:

Sept. 22: The Cardlinx Association, Data Driven Commerce: Card-Linking and the Transformation of Offers, Bellevue,WA
Sept. 28-30: BIA-Kelsey SMB, Big Ideas on Local Marketing for Small Business, Denver Tech Center
Sept. 30-Oct. 1: Local Media Innovation Conference, Denver Tech Center
Oct. 25-38: Money 2020, Las Vegas
Dec. 8-9: BIA/Kelsey NEXT: The Future of Local Digital Media, Hollywood

Come to Denver: BIA/Kelsey’s SMB Show, Sept. 29-30 (+ Discount Code)

The “local” space has become many things to many people…which makes BIA/Kelsey’s SMB Show the most focused event in our annual lineup. Produced this year by my colleague Charles Laughlin, the event has been growing every year and is making a case for itself as the company’s new flagship. It will be held at Denver Tech Center Sept. 29-30.

Some great features are planned for the event, including a new version of the Future Stars showcase and contest; a robust exhibit hall; and of course, the industry’s best local networking. The Denver area in the fall is quite nice, too.

Some of the 40+ handpicked industry leaders that I am especially looking forward to listening to and talking with include Vistaprint’s Scott Bowen, Go Daddy’s Raj Mukherjee, YP’s Darren Clark, Hibu’s Kevin Jasper, Booker’s Josh McCarter, Constant Contact’s Joel Hughes, Microsoft’s Kelly Thomas Johaim, SMB visionary Randy Parker, and Home Advisor’s Craig Smith and Chris Terrill.

Use my discount code “SMB2015PK” for $200 off. Rates go up August 31.

BIA/Kelsey NOW: The Impact of The Local On Demand Economy

BIA/Kelsey’s NOW conference today in San Francisco highlighted the Uberification of the local space and its impact, pro and con, on traditional marketing channels, especially advertising.

“It is about evolving markets,” said event head Mitch Ratcliffe. Some people grossly simplify what is happening as if there will just be “an uber for this, an uber for that. but there are different services and niches for each vertical,” he said. It is not about preserving “monocultures.”

“Uber is just one possible solution for transportation,” for instance, said Ratcliffe. “The Local On Demand Economy is the first great tool for monetizing (an employment) exchange. And it acknowledges that the 90 year-old idea of a job for life is probably beginning to end.” And that’s not necessarily new, either. “Benjamin Franklin didn’t have a job,” notes Ratcliffe. He did have a portfolio of interests.

Keynoter Joanna Lord, Porch VP of Business Development, noted that “the funnel is so different now. The search and find models that drove Google’s emergence is now ‘get it,’” she said. And consumers are willing to pay a premium for convenience and excellence. “Fifty five percent would pay more for a better experience.”

LODE companies are also extending the notion of loyalty beyond the four pillars of “no loyalty,” “inertia loyalty,” “latent loyalty” and “premium loyalty,” she said. “There is now a 5th type of loyalty: Reciprocal loyalty.” Lord defines this as a“premium relationship befitting both the consumer and the brand.”