Category Archives: Conferences

ILM 2013: The New World of Local Leads


Local businesses are finding customers in lots of new ways with the expanding reach of social media and transaction capabilities. Today at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media in San Francisco, a panel on “the new world of leads” with executives from Airbnb, Thumbtack and Lucky Oyster explored some of the opportunities.

Airbnb, of course, is one of the real breakouts in the space with ten million “guests” in 192 countries now participating in its apartment –as- hotel rental services. The company’s Joe Zadeh said the key to its “shared economy” service was understanding its clients. “People want to have more experiences, and they want to step away from having so many things,” he said. People don’t necessarily want to be an Uber driver after getting a ride, but they do want to become Airbnb hosts.

The company has been building its solutions based on need. For instance, it has developed a freelance photographer program because hosts need good pictures of their apartments. It is also working on providing “speed matches.” Guests “don’t want to wait six hours to get a response,” he said.

Lucky Oyster’s Matthew Berk, a longtime local industry executive and analyst, said that a key part of the new leads order is to provide a “structured” word of mouth platform about actual experience. It has been a ten year journey to provide digital word of mouth. For a local business, it will never be based on a tremendous volume of leads or reviews, he said. But you want to track it, promote it and bump it. The opportunity for innovation is in the form of discovering the right lead, he said.

Thumbtack’s Marco Zappacosta said leads for services have their own special criteria. The long term goal is to become a transactional marketplace, and the most convenient way for a seller to conduct his or her business. But “a lot of price discovery happens after the point of introduction,” he said, noting that Thumbtack now has a list of 30,000 contractors, and sends $200 million of business their way. His challenge: get more contractors. There is plenty of business but a supply constraint.

LIL ILM: eBay’s Jody Ford on ‘The New Commerce Battlefield’

Local is front and center in the next phase of ecommerce opening up, said eBAY VP of Marketplaces Jody Ford during a keynote address Dec. 110 at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media in San Francisco. Ford said the past several years have been about online service, inventory and convenience and have necessarily favored online sites such as Amazon. But a new era of commerce that is consumer driven and technology enabled will blur the lines between online and offline.

“That is local,” said Ford. “There will be more retail change in the next three years than in the past twenty years.” And it will necessarily favor “platform” companies such as eBay, which Ford boasts has “the largest group of closed loop transactions in the world served by eBay, eBay Enterprises and PayPal.

“My job is to remove friction from connecting buyers and sellers,” he said. In fact, eBay “sits in the middle between utility sites such as Amazon and Walmart, and social shopping sites such as Etsy, Pinterest and Fab, he said.

The company’s next steps include such efforts as same day, scheduled delivery via eBay Now, which is supported by eBay’s recent acquisition of the Shutl courier service. eBay Now has been rolled out in the Bay Area. Chicago and parts of New York City. Dallas and London are next.

Winners Announced for ILM’s Yelp Headquarters Tour

We have taken a drawing of the many entrants for our Yelp headquarters “PreCon” tour at Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media on Dec. 10, and we have a lucky group of winners. The new Yelp building is the renovation of the old PacBell building. It is really beautiful. Thanks for all the entrants.

More conference-related stuff: On Monday night, our friends at Local Market Launch have a fabulous wine tasting featuring vintages from their home base in Santa Barbara (think of the movie, “Sideways”). It is an elegant way to network with your industry colleagues. Please email to request your invitation.

See you in San Francisco?

Reading List: Recent Blog Coverage of LIL:ILM Speakers

At Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media Dec. 10-12 in San Francisco, we are presenting 50 of local’s top players. Want some homework? We’ve pulled recent coverage of some of our speakers from our Local Media Watch blog. There’s plenty of great reading here, and you’ll experience — first hand — how fast things have been changing.

Patrick Barry, GM, Intuit/DemandForce
Intuit Acquires Online Scheduler

Matthew Berk, CEO, Lucky Oyster
Matthew Berk Rethinks WOM via Lucky Oyster

Brian Boland, VP, Facebook
Facebook/Google Vertical Wars: Facebook Grabs a Google Auto Exec

Suzanne Cooper, Managing Editor, SF Chronicle
SF Chronicle’s Cooper: The Fight to Save Journalism

Jeremy Geiger, CEO, Retailigence
Closed Loop Mobile Local Shopping: A Conversation with Retailigence

Dan Hight, SVP, xAd
XAd and Posterscope: Retargeting For The Real World

Ziad Ismail, SVP, Marchex
Marchex Maps Call Monetization Genome

Mark Roberge, SVP, Hubspot
BIA-Kelsey Briefing: Hubspot Points to a New Way of Selling

Chris Schroeder, Author , Startup Rising
Bookshelf: Christopher Schroeder’s Startup Rising

Sean Smyth, VP, Groupon
A Look at Groupon’s New Partner Network

Eckart Walther, CEO, CardSpring
Merchants Drive Their Own Transaction Marketing via Cardspring Connect

Leading Execs From Yahoo, LinkedIn, Constant Contact Added to Interactive Local Media (San Francisco, Dec. 10-12)

The clock is ticking! We are just one month from Leading in Local: Interactive Local Media, which is Dec. 10-12 in San Francisco. The event has shaped up to be the most exciting local event in recent memory – a 2 ½ day extravaganza that focuses on local: The Internet’s last and biggest frontier.

We’ve already announced a powerful lineup of 48 speakers, including local leaders at Google, Facebook, Go Daddy, eBay, Groupon, Hubspot, Intuit; and major thinkers and leaders, including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, AllThings D’s Kara Swisher and Startup Rising author Chris Schroeder.

Want more? We have some exciting new confirms.

Amit Kumar, VP, and Head of SMB, Yahoo. Kumar is set to brief attendees on Yahoo’s local and SMB initiatives under CEO Marissa Meyer.
Ralf VonSosen, Marketing Leader, LinkedIn. VonSosen is set to discuss LinkedIn’s approach to leveraging its vast network for marketing
Joel Hughes, SVP, Constant Contact. Hughes joins SureFire Social’s Chris Marentis to discuss ways to make social media really powerful for local.
Jeff Folckemer, President, Local Edge. Folckemer joins a great Digital Agency session and will provide insight into Hearst’s view of what really works.
Anna Zornosa, President, Ruby Rails. Zornosa, the longtime industry leader with prior stints at Knight Ridder Digital, Dealix and joins our special Women Leading in Local networking session.

Of course, it isn’t just about what’s on stage. We are staging the San Francisco edition of our Future Stars contest, which rewards talented local startups; and not one, but TWO great precon tours set. A limited number of attendees will be visiting with Yelp at its brand new headquarters in the historic PacBell building; another group will be meeting a super group of Bay Area startups at WeWork. More info on signing up is coming.

Will we see you in San Francisco? Register here.

We’ll be touring Yelp’s new headquarters

Facebook, eBay, GoDaddy, Lt. Gov Join Leading in Local: ILM (Dec. 10-12 San Francisco)

How can you constantly top yourself? It is a challenge that leaders have, in whatever endeavor they are pursuing: whether it is sports, literature, academia, or business.

We are pretty sure this year’s Interactive Local Media event –BIA/Kelsey’s flagship – is going to top any other event we’ve done before.

The event’s handpicked keynotes, superforums and BIA/Kelsey research really do define the state of Interactive Local Media for 2013-14. We’ve just added Brian Boland, Facebook’s VP of Product. Facebook is all over local advertising and commerce in ways that are obvious – and not so obvious. We can’t wait to hear his insights.

Other added industry leaders include eBay Marketplaces VP Jody Ford, who is helping lead the charge as eBay goes big in local (and against Amazon); and Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving, the visionary leader who is building a comprehensive platform to leverage GoDaddy’s 8 million SMB customers. Talk about disruption!

Kicking off the conference, of course, are two of the best: San Francisco Chronicle President Joanne Bradford and AllThings D Co Executive Editor Kara Swisher. The insights don’t come deeper or faster.

And at LIL: ILM, it isn’t just about the “industry.” On Day 2, we are especially proud to be joined by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the political superstar (and ex San Francisco Mayor) who has focused on tech’s impact on local (see his new book, “Citizenville”).

The Lt. Gov will also introduce Chris Schroeder, the former Washington Post Newsweek Digital chief who has written this year’s top book on start ups (“Startup Rising”). Attendees can jockey for signed copies that we’ll be handing out.

Other major speakers at the conference include Groupon VP Sean Smyth; Weather Company VP Denise Chudhy; Hubspot SVP Mark Roberge; and Intuit/DemandForce CMO Patrick Barry. They’ll join 40+ speakers and hundreds of attendees at what is truly ”the industry’s largest gathering.”

What else? We have a special tour of Yelp headquarters before the event even begins. More info on that a little later on. Does it sound G-R-E-A-T? Hey, we hope to see you in San Francisco!

You can register here.

JD Power Auto Roundtable: Digital Auto Ecosystem Shifts

With the majority of U.S. auto buyers now using online and mobile in their research, the auto sites are clarifying their individual roles in the auto ecosystem – and making adjustments where necessary.

This week, a panel of car site leaders at the JD Power Auto Roundtable in Las Vegas – including,, Kelley Blue Book and — suggested there were two extremes among them. On one side, you have the national verticals that are the successors to the classifieds industry and provide rich information about cars and the buying journey, lead by and On the other side, you have sites focused more on providing price estimates for autos, such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and

Finding a balance between pricing and dealer engagement has been the industry’s challenge.

“Price, while important, is not the sole principal,” said SVP Alex Vetter. Most people want to know who to buy from and the quality of the service department. Taking care of customers post sale means a lot to them and they will pay more than the lowest price.

Indeed, a focus on price is seen as a “race to the bottom. “As marketers, we are touting unique value propositions, product quality and things we want to promote.” Vetter notes that’s deep editorial content, and growing mobile channel, provides context and relevance for the site’s network of 20,000 dealers. President and COO Seth Berkowitz , however, suggested that the presentation of price really is important – so long as it is provided in a rich context. By providing price points that have been paid by other customers, along with price quotes by the dealers, better trust is fostered with consumers. When dealers make promises and keep them, we’ve seen a 10% bump in satisfaction ratings, said Berkowitz – an important boost, as dealer profits are often made less from sales as loyalty efforts such as car trade ins and service.

Berkowitz said that the site now works with 6,000 dealers and is becoming more dealer-centric, rather than relying so much on advertising from the manufacturers. The site’s revenue split is currently 60 percent advertising, 40 percent dealers. By next year, it should be 50/50.