Category Archives: Google

ShopTalk: Google and PostMates Make the Case for SMB Deliveries

Fast and Free (or cheap) delivery is being positioned to retailers and restaurants by a growing group of companies as a key strategic asset that helps them compete with Amazon. Google has entered the marketplace with Google Express. It competes against such companies as Postmates, InstaCart, DoorDash, Deliv and Uber.

There are doubters out there – especially about same day/same hour delivery. Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn, for instance, estimates that just 5 percent of his men’s wear sales would be impacted by fast delivery. The economics and logistics of the business also put off observers like ShopRunner CEO Scott Thomson, who thinks that it will be impossible to compete against Amazon for same day delivery, much less one hour delivery. “Amazon is building warehouses in every city,” he emphasizes.

But others are taking a more strategic outlook, emphasizing how delivery will aid store loyalty, and can ultimately be supported via multiple revenue models, including annual membership programs paid by consumers, akin to Amazon Prime/Amazon Now.

At the ShopTalk show in Las Vegas May 16-18, Google Express GM Brian Elliot said it’s all about sharing delivery resources across lots of local merchants. “We can build an app that lets you shop across multiple retailers and connect locally,” he said, suggesting it is like being an anchor tenant at a mall. “We can build an awesome network infrastructure of stores,” added Elliot. “We are delivering loyalty.” He also suggested that it “removes friction” from merchants since payments are processed by Google.

Elliot is also bullish on the impact of deliveries on merchants. “Studies are showing they’ve seen more volume coming through. Consumers are shopping more often,” he said. Merchants that add their inventory into the system are also more likely to be shopped by consumers searching for products. “It’s not just about delivery. The more we can leverage inventory, the more we can drive foot traffic,” he said.

The economics of a delivery network, however, depend on shared resources and working with a relatively low volume. “Staging (delivery) of 200,000 units from the back of a store….Uber is not prepared to do that,” says Elliot.

PostMates CEO Bastian Lehmann, also at ShopTalk, said that delivery is a retailer’s best friend. “It gives you something that larger companies can’t compete with” and “new customers,” he said. Since deliveries are made for one price and aren’t distance sensitive, many stores are seeing new customers coming from locations more than two miles away.

Postmates actually delivers for a combination of SMBs and multi-location stores, including Apple Store, Starbucks, Chipotle, 7-11, McDonalds and WalGreens. A consumer can search among 1.5 Million SKUs, and 50,000 stores. It also touches 50,000 merchants a month.

Lehmann notes that the company’s business model relies on a combination of merchant fees, consumer fees and/or unlimited delivery club fees. Its ability to deliver goods from any merchant drives a local “long tail.” says Lehmann. The economics, however, vary based on whether the store is in or out of network. Forty percent of its delivered orders come from out of network.

SMB Trust Index: Google “46”; Facebook “24”

Do SMBs think they “like” Facebook more than Google? That’s one theory…that Facebook has leapt ahead of Google by offering the free business page, universal penetration, and simple to use, affordable ad options. Such goodwill would theoretically help Facebook as it increasingly competes with Google for SMB marketing dollars.

But hold on: that’s not exactly the case, circa 1Q 2016. Google is enormously useful, and a lot of SMBs have been grousing about Facebook since last year, when it started throttling organic reach in an effort that has helped it get to three million paid advertisers.

The grousing is reflected in Alignable’s SMB Trust Index, which has been getting an NPS score on top vendors from its base of 6,000 SMBs in 7,000+ communities. The NPS score is a simple 1-10 rating. High ratings (9-10) signify “champions,” while low ratings (0-6) represent “detractors.”

Alignable found that Google is the 4th highest rated vendor for SMBs, with a rating of “46.” Facebook, meanwhile, is 12th, with a rating of “24.” This reflects a drop of four points for Facebook from a year ago, when it had a “28” rating.

Keeping it in perspective, however, both Google and Facebook are still showing overall goodwill from their SMB customers. There is quite a difference in their ratings compared to a low performer such as Web.com, which suffered a rating of “-61.”

These SMB Trust Index rankings strike us as unique and useful. In our view, it is likely to have a real impact on an industry that could never quite tell before where key vendors really stood with their SMB customers. In the past couple of years, it would have helped a lot as the media and general public started leaping to negative conclusions about Yelp, Groupon, ReachLocal and the Yellow Pages in general.

My Podcast Predictions for 2016: I’m on ‘The Digital CMO with Mike Orren’

Can the daily deals model recover? Will beacons be big in retail? Why is the home services space set to soar? How will custom deals be more sophisticated in the new year? And how can marketers decide which “unicorns” to bet on and which to ignore?

Speakeasy CEO and social and hyperlocal media pioneer Mike Orren interviews me — The Local Onliner — about what’s happening in local and media in 2016 for his new show, The Digital CMO. It runs about 34 minutes….Here’s the podcast link.

The Rise of Google Now and Deep Linking: Few Rules, Big Opportunities

Deep linking was originally thought of as sordid play by Google to bypass information providers. Yelp would certainly think so. But deep linking has taken on a new context, as Google, Apple and a host of search startups seek to re-engineer the search ecosystem to get consumers want they really want. It also acts the anchors for linkable tech that ties together platforms (i.e. Internet, video), commerce and content.

At BIA/Kelsey Next in Hollywood Dec. 8-9, speakers reflected on deep linking as a new opportunity to get consumers to engage with Apps, rather than bypass them. Google’s Vera Tzoneva noted that people are only engaging with a quarter of the 36 apps they’ve typically downloaded (i.e. 9)

Google Now— –Google’s deep linking service – is seeking to energize usage with deep linking. We are “looking at your needs” and “giving you useful information at the right moment, said Tzoneva. Google has come a long way from simply posting a number of relevant search links. “We are not just telling you what is out there,” she said.

Button CRO Mike Dudas said he sees a whole new business model of connecting searched content sites to commerce. Button, for instance, connects sites such as Foursquare to a number of related commerce partners, such as Uber. Connecting to ecommerce “is an additional revenue stream, “ he said. “It’s very accurate.

But are we there yet? Not according to Yellow Pages and search Vet Paul Ryan, who is the founder and CRO of Quick.ly, a new mobile search site. “It’s still wide open” with few rules, he said. “Android is the Wild, Wild West.”

“We’re back to 1999,” when it was still about search and discovery, added Ryan. “There’s buffers of content, but everyone is going to the home page. The major part is getting people to the content or action they want accomplished.”

At BIA/Kelsey NEXT: Local’s New Linking Technologies and Intersection’s LinkNYC

We always like to call out the “laboratories” of locals, and efforts to embrace and leverage the latest technologies. At BIA/Kelsey’s NEXT conference Dec. 9-10 in Hollywood, we heard a lot from the laboratories, and their various goals.

Interestingly, most were not focused on simply extending media properties, or making them more efficient (except, perhaps, the automation and programmatic guys).

Instead, we saw a heavy focus on the new linking technologies, which take data from everywhere; personalizes it; and pushes it out across different channels, especially mobile. Google Now, Facebook, Microsoft, Groupon, Mogl, Intersection, Button, Orange, Quick.ly, Workwave, Retailigence and Wanderful Media were among the progressive companies presenting (and Local SEO Guide’s Andrew Shotland talked about Apple’s new focus on extending Apple Search across all its media and commerce channels). The linking efforts would ideally produce “a Tesla” from the combination of cost value, experience value and platform value, noted Cisco Research Fellow Andy Naronha.

Intersection – a new company formed by the merger of Control Group and Titan, and invested in by Google’s Sidewalk Labs — certainly has its eyes on the prize. CSO Dave Etherington said the company’s LinkNYC is a prototype project bringing data and media to the 3.5 million New Yorkers who don’t have access to broadband by transforming 7,500 payphones throughout the five boroughs to broadband machines. They’ll each feature a free gigabyte of Wifi, and access to digital services.

Intersection has a 15 year contract from New York for the project, which is projected to be funded by ad sales, and lets the city “reimagine real estate, technology and value…..wherever there is real estate. The more value you can bring, the more people will use it,” says Etherington, noting that the effort is working to “democratize the city” and will inspire new efforts by schools and hackathons. At the same time, ad revenue sharing is projected to bring in over $500 Million to the city’s coffers over the project’s first 12 years.

If it all works, it is definitely a better deal for New Yorkers than giving Disney the keys to a large part of 42nd street to help redevelop it, or Donald Trump the keys to the Commodore Hotel on a tax free basis to build today’s Grand Hyatt.

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Intersection’s Dave Etherington and Cisco’s Andy Noronha

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 Quick.ly’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: Google Talks About Why It is in Payments


Google’s Payments division is seeking synergies across many of Google’s business units – hence the recent insertion of several AdWords executives into the Payments leadership.

Speaking at Money2020 in Las Vegas, Google Payment VP Ariel Bardin bluntly acknowledged that people don’t think Google has a real role in the payments world, and didn’t mind that Google Wallet was struggling to take off. But Google can help merchants in a number of ways, while also helping itself.

Merchants can get strong signals into consumer behavior by tracking payments. Tracking payments also helps tie together the various advertising and promotion pieces, said Bardin.

In a recent Google survey of 1,500 smart phone users, for instance, 45 percent said they wanted loyalty products from merchants on their mobile device, but just 4 percent actually have them. “This is an area we can help,” said Bardin.

Indeed, there are natural synergies with payments ‘Post,” “Pre” and “During” research into transactions.

In the “Pre” phase, Google has an interest in driving queries to specific shopping categories. Bardin noted that Google has indexed over one billion products (and is selling Product listing Ads) . It can achieve a 500 percent boost in queries to specific categories.

It can also send out geofenced coupons via its partnership with ValPak. “There are lots of coupons you can see,” said Bardin. There are also new mobile vertical applications, such as The Fancy, an Android app that is highly personalized based on user data, including credit card information.

In the “During” phase, the interest is in boosting Google Maps, Google Offers and Google Wallet. A lot of it hinges on getting more customer loyalty.

“Post” transaction, Google is developing a set of data and analysis for participating merchants, which currently include . Expedia, uber, priceline, toysrus, Hilton and others. Loyaly efforts, including points, play a big role in that as well.