Category Archives: Conferences

Street Fight’s Local Data Summit: The Impact of Data on Local

The impact of data on local marketing was Topic #1 during Street Fight’s Local Data Summit today in Denver. Speakers addressed the wide range of data issues that have begun to enhance local marketing and shift local marketing – and even diminish the spending and influence of marketing.

Mobile is the real driver of the new environment. The new era of big data is largely spurred by the technology in the phone, especially radios, said Qualcomm’s Aidoo Osei. In the near future, it will be further driven by sensors in stores , such as Apple’s iBeacon. The combination of in phone tech and in store sensors will create a “continuous user experience,” added Intel’s Greg Turetsky.

Turetsky said the data environment will be greatly impacted by the growing role of indoor intelligence, such as the sensors, which can react to consumers as they walk by with personalized promotions. Just last week, indoor got a huge boost when the FCC mandated that the e911 system should be upgraded to include indoor as well as outdoor. Commercial applications for indoor sensors should follow, he said.

But technologists can’t get too far ahead of themselves. Even at the Local Data Summit…not a single member of the audience said they had yet used iBeacon.

Other views focused on the nascent efforts to leverage location. Major progress has been made since some of the technology began rolling out in 2012, said Placed’s David Shim. It used to be entirely experimental, said Shim. But now brands are coming in with predefined problems. “They ask: can you solve the problem for me?”

Many data issues directly relate to mobile marketing – especially in terms of audience measurement. It used to be all about projecting audiences based on panels, said PlaceIQ’s Drew Breunig. But now—thanks to the influx of mobile users – “ we have populations. And we have the computing resources to deal with the data coming off the populations.” Breunig noted the new environment is enormously richer to today’s focus on geofencing, which tends to underdeliver.

IAB Leadership Meeting: Facebook, NY Times Defend Native Advertising

Native advertising — the insertion of contextually relevant advertising amidst other content — is viewed with suspicion by much of the ad community, which sees it as unscaleable, and perhaps the opposite of its drive towards programmatic (automated) sales.

During the Summary Panel today at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, one hypothesis by moderator Terry Kawaja, CEO, LUMA Partners, playing devil’s advocate, was that “agencies cannot create the volume and quality of native content necessary to populate every native ad.”

New York Times Executive VP of Advertising Meredith Levien, rising to the bait, strongly disagreed. “Good native advertising puts the onus on the reader to decide whether to engage or not,” she said, noting that The Times, Buzzfeed, Forbes (her former employer) and others have set up native ad areas that are clearly differentiated from other content, and highly successful. “It’s not like we have (columnist) Thomas Friedman writing for Pepsi,” she said.

Facebook VP of Ad Products, Monetization and Atlas Brian Boland, a keynoter at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM show in December, vigorously defended native advertising – not surprisingly, since Facebook is banking heavily on it. Native advertising, when combined with personalization, provides unprecedented value, he said. “People are going to a place where they want to discover what is important to them. It creates an opportunity for people to be excited about what they see.”

Boland noted that Facebook has recently been criticized for pushing the envelope with native advertising by having video ads. But critics should have done their homework, like Facebook has, Boland said. He noted that it did reams of testing and research, and the feedback has shown that the video ads are totally engaging viewers.

Going forward, Facebook is developing a set of formats to enable people and advertisers to express themselves via native advertising on every platform – especially mobile. Boland acknowledged, however, that such formats are better suited towards larger media concerns. A handful of publishers will similarly see how things evolve, he said. But it remains “a challenge for midsized publishers.”

IAB Leadership Meeting: CMOs Discuss Internal Impact of ‘Digital First’


Digital change comes as much from inside the marketing organization as from end users, noted two leading CMOs, who were interviewed at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting today in Palm Desert. The CMOs were Wells Fargo‘s Jamie Moldafsky and Adobe‘s Ann Lewnes.

Moldafsky said that the key to digitizing the staid Well Fargo culture and the company’s 370,000 employees is “to ground everyone in customer insight.” With six billion transactions a year, Wells Fargo has really had to focus on the most important aspect of the digital era: “how real time we need to be thinking,” says Moldafsky.”The hardest part for us is that notion of speed.” The emergence of digital –especially omnichannel – has enabled marketing to “take some risks in the spirit of learning,” she added.

Lewnes said that Adobe made the decision five or six years ago to move as much of our money as possible to digital. “We now spend seventy-four percent of our marketing on digital,” she noted. “Every marketing employee has a ‘digital first’ mentality with no excuses.”

The change over has coincided with the company’s move to an all digital, subscription-based business model. But “the biggest need was the amount of change needed inside the organization,” she said. The data constitutes “a think tank of Web analysis — and is “the “single point of truth” for the whole company. It has lead to making more changes in the last two yearas than the prior 50 years combined. “The only thing I can convince people is that the quantifiable side of marketing is what people want to see.”


IAB Leadership Meeting: Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman

Clear Channel Entertainment CEO Bob Pittman, speaking today at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, said that radio has been able to leverage its undiminshed strength with digital providing a new channel and new listeners for the medium.

Pittman, a legenday industry figure who was one of the early leaders at MTV and then a leader at Six Flags over America, Century 21, AOL and Time Warner (and a BIA/Kelsey keynoter at ILM 2011), noted that “digital was the obvious way to go” for reinforcing Clear Channel’s value when he took the company’s helm a few years ago. “My entire career since the early 1970s has been about trying to find new ways to connect to the home,” he said. But now we have reversed it,” with the latest trends –driven by mobile — about doubling or even tripling out of home usage.

While digital is a great enabler, it is still not the centerpiece of marketing, Pittman stressed. “You want a product strategy.” With Clear Channel, his team has built out “I Heart Radio” with an annual, in person concert that leverages the comapny’s relationships with on air talent and musical artists. The concert is now the anchor of the company’s marketing, and has helped raise awareness of the digital channel to 70 percent (along with what Pittman described as millions of dollars worth of on-air advertising).

IAB Leadership Meeting: WalMart Global Commerce CEO Neil Ashe


Wal-Mart Global eCommerce CEO Neil Ashe told 1000+ digital marketing pros at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert that their responsibility is to fully integrate their efforts throughout the organization.

Ashe, who formerly ran CBS Interactive, said top company execs have got to get away from the notion that the CIO is the only one who matters because “he has the ear of the CEO. That’s bunk,” he said. “You need everyone.”

“The org chart hasn’t changed all that much,” added Ashe. “But people are really changing. It is about inspiring change among key influentials in the organization.”

Ashe noted that has been set up as a separate organization, based in San Bruno, CA. But it has a major impact on the rest of WalMart, and works hard to blend its activities with WalMart.

Ultimately, a company needs to be judged on “its willingness to change, and its ability to invent,” said Ashe. “We need to deliver consistency across our units and bring together marketing, merchandising and technology in ways they’ve never been before.”

The top priority, Ashe added, is to coordinate the needs of the customer. “It is no longer up to the organization to do this,” said Ashe. “It happens at the point of the customers. It happens not where we choose, but where they choose. First and foremost, it is about how to deliver a better shopping experience for customers.”

It is also time to get over the novelty of Big Data concepts, and start thinking about how to actually apply data in meaningful ways. “Six-to-nine months ago, we all sat down and said ‘we’re sick’ of talking” about Big Data. We need to turn Big Data from a noun to a verb, and make it actionable,” said Ashe.

“We need it to help us help customers to find one more item; for merchants to sell one more item; to help our fulfillment centers do their job,” Ashe added. “That’s when data becomes actionable.”

Noting that WalMart was a pioneer in sharing its data with suppliers as far back as 1992, Ashe said that the company’s new efforts with data is “manifesting itself on site and in our stores; and manifesting in merchants in how they operate on our site and our store; and with operators, from scheduling to inventory outreach.


Satya Nadella: Our SMB ‘Ringer’ at Microsoft

When a new leader is announced for the giant ocean liners in technology, we tend to sift through the tea leaves to see what kind of insights, perspective and focus they will bring via SMBs and local. Yahoo‘s Marissa Mayer, for instance, ran local for Google. AOL‘s Tim Armstrong, launched Patch as a private investment. Their predecessors did not have any background in local (and that was unfortunately reflected during their tenure.)

Microsoft’s announcement that it would bring in Satya Nadella as CEO is a real milestone, as he handles the transition of the company from one that is primarily based on software to one that is cloud based and oriented towards mobile experiences.

Nadella has been a true believer in the importance of enabling SMBs with rich software from the start of his career. As Vice President, Microsoft bCentral Marketing & Business in 2001, we were pleased to have him as a keynote for our Directory Driven Commerce conference in Orlando. (yes, our conferences tend to be a great scouting ground for industry leaders.)

Nadella’s job at that time was to integrate the company’s acquisition of Great Plains Software into a platform that would give SMBs the same level of services as Microsoft’s enterprise customers. For Microsoft, it proved to be a much smarter way to go than its earlier effort to go hyperlocal with Sidewalk, a consumer-facing hyperlocal portal — although Microsoft continues to evolve its SMB strategies.

At our DDC conference, Nadella emphatically stressed the importance of SMBs to the future of Microsoft. Now, as CEO, Nadella must treat SMBs as just one channel for the company’s growth. But one can expect Nadella to be as aware as anyone of the rich potential in this essential but underserved market.

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

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.