Category Archives: Google

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: 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.

LIL 2013: Search All Stars Talk Google (And Getting Around Google)

Local search is taking lots of new directions, with unprecedented opportunities opening up for low budget SMBs, according to an all star panel of search experts at Leading in Local in Boston March 19.

Moderator Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide noted that If you are in the directory business, the goal is to become a version of Yelp, with its strong brand and hordes of user generated content. That strategy makes your site more interesting to Google’s search algorithms and gets a higher ranking. But it’s tough to do with scale, he said.

Several panelists noted that one of the biggest challenges is coping with Google’s own ambitions to rule the nest. David Mihm of SEOMoz. It used to be that you had a strong chance of ranking your phrases, but now Google is surfacing with its own maps, plus results and Web results from an SMB in any given market.

Matchcraft’s Brad Petersen added that companies really should only focus on what Google wants. Don’t build any content unless it helps Google results, he said.

The Search Agency’s Brian McCarthy noted that SMBs can’t really hope to get the same traction from a search campaign as national brands and others. They won’t be able to keep up with multitudes of keyword requests and other factors. They can level the playing field with full automation, however, which will do it for them. There have been major advancements with automation, he noted (including from his company).

Matchcraft’s Petersen concurred that automation is critical at the lower end. “To us, there is good automation and bad automation.” For the latter, rely more on human editorial products, he advised. For the former, build very large taxonomies.

Facebook also represents major new opportunitie. Mihm noted that it is very expensive on a cost per click basis because it is so granular. But the targeting is terrific.

Search Influence’s Will Scott said Facebook is especially effective for amplifying the reach of a local audience. But Facebook is all abut pay for play, he said. Advertisers need to pay to have sponsored stories if they want to be widely seen. Otherwise, they get slimmed down to the point of being insidious.

Google’s Wojcicki at IAB: ‘Move as Fast as Consumers’

Google SVP of Advertising Susan Wojcicki told the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting today in Phoenix that “we are a B2B business but we need to move as fast as consumers do.”

Choice, control, charm, connectedness and calibration are the 5 Cs of the next generation of advertising, said Wojciki. Users will participate if we provide enough value and control; and if ads are more interactive and beautiful.

Mobile, especially, has tremendous potential, and is already deeply integrated into the consumer experience. “But we haven’t yet developed all the ad models that will exist for mobile,” she said. Location, for instance, is one of mobile’s most important features. But it isn’t always maximized.

This is even true at The Arizona Biltmore, the IAB’s conference hotel. “We all have mobile. We all work in advertising. We are all staying here. But how many got an offer from this hotel?” she asked.

The industry would do better to follow Starbucks leadership. If registered mobile users buy a pound of coffee, they’ll get a $5 coffee card, she noted.

Google SVP of Advertising Susan Wojciki at IAB

Google Re-Aims Zavers Coupon Program Beyond Groceries

Google Commerce last week introduced Zavers by Google, a coupon/transaction marketing management and loyalty rewards service that it purchased last November. Using Zavers, shoppers find offers on their websites and save them to their Zavers account. The offers are then automatically redeemed in real time when shoppers present their reward cards, mobile wallets or type-in their phone numbers.

The company is based in Kansas City and was founded in 2006. Under its original management, Zavers raised $4 Million and was aimed at providing targeted coupons for a number of grocery chains, including A&P, The Food Emporium, Price Chopper, Superfresh and Pathmar. D’Agostinos has now been added to this list.

Grocery relationships are potentially very important in the new transaction marketing space, given the volume of grocery offers. But grocery chains also represent the last frontier. They have been notably reluctant to upgrade their point of sales infrastructure to handle offers, track spending etc.

Under Google’s management, Zavers has been integrated with Incentive Targeting, a software platform that Google bought last year to help create behaviorally-targeted promotions. Zavers now appears to be more broadly aimed at retailers in general, as well as brands. In fact, it makes it debut this week at The National Retail Federation/ conference in New York.

The broader approach to retailers potentially puts Zavers on a collision path with transaction marketing companies oriented towards financial institutitions, such as Cardlytics, Cartera, Edo Interactive and MasterCard’s TruAxis – something that would have seemed far-fetched just last year.

It also is better positioned to complement Google Wallet, an ambitious Google Commerce undertaking that has had a slow start but continues to pursue a path to enable consumers to store and redeem coupons and deals, while managing bill pay and other spending.

It’s All Local: Why Apple Has to Get Maps Right

As the New York Times noted this morning, Apple’s initial iOS6 foray into mobile maps has been greeted with a thumbs down by iPhone 5 reviewers, who prefer the polished Google Maps experience that was the prior default.

But maps –and by extension, local — are strategically important to Apple’s future. You can bet Apple will push hard to get them right. This is no Ping-like exercise, where Apple launches something and then discontinues it.

Apple first signaled its interests in maps in October 2009 with its purchase of PlaceBase – an API company that let developers map locations and services with pushpins.

Where can Apple go with maps – and for that matter, Google, Amazon, Microsoft/Nokia, Yahoo and AOL? Our take on maps is that they’re part of a tandem with data, and the integration of maps, geo fencing techniques, proximity search, and data such as public transit info and listings creates rich opportunities for targeted advertising (“Mapvertising”) and services.

Maps, of course, have come along way from simple store locators, which were the first online application. Just as store locators today are widely integrated with listing data, coupons and other information, you can expect to see the same trajectory in other segments. Deal mapping, for instance, has already had an impact with such companies as The DealMap (now owned by Google), 8Coupons and Bargain Babe LA making it easy to see where the deals are.

Other map concepts have been out there as well, including public transit maps (HopStop), garage maps, jogging maps ( and wedding maps ( With the rise of mobile, the key is that they not only provide citywide vertical info for a number of localities (i.e. Zillow maps), but also provide national seamlessness.

It has been noted that maps are the top part of the data pyramid and that if you can map it, everything else is easy. That’s probably true. It’s also true that some of the map centric activity has been premature or out of context. Some of the map-centric directories, ad networks and map-centric SEO efforts have been a little ahead of their time, and also, not always easy enough to use.

MapQuest’s efforts to monetize as a directory showed promise but wasn’t an instant hit. More recently, ABC News got rid of its interesting-but-unessential iPad app, which featured a spinning globe of news stories.

Despite some false starts, Apple has figured out that it has to be in the middle of maps to compete in the next generation of mobile services. We’re excited about Apple’s validation of the power of mapping in local online media and commerce, and expecting to see great progress in short order.

SMB Digital 2012: Google Execs Discuss New Products and Local Progress

Google’s role in the SMB Digital Marketing community is huge, and at SMB Digital Marketing in Chicago today, two Google execs described some of the company’s activities that have impacted SMB marketing.

Speaking on reseller side as an exec in the newly renamed “Channel Sales” division, Ben Wood noted that mobile and social have really been driving a lot of the new activity. Google research shows that one in three mobile searches are now local oriented he said, compared to one in five desktop searches. Channel sales , which is manned with 100 people around the world, has 350 partners and is in 44 countries.

New products include zip code targeting and congressional district targeting, in time for the 2012 U.S. elections. “It is much better targeting” for SMBs, he said. “They are the most requested (products) we’ve had for a few years.

Wood also noted that Google has done a lot to make its products more social, starting with the conversion of Google Places to Google +. “Google+ can really turbo charge marketing,” he said. “It can increase click thru rates by 5-10 percent.”

Results have generally been strong for partners, which have given it a 93 percent satisfaction level., up from 32 percent just a couple of years ago. “If you are not making money, why on Earth would you want to sell our products?” he said.

Google YouTube analyst Valentine Matrat addressed YouTube’s relatively new effort to court SMBs for advertising. She provided advice on what SMBs should do to boost traffic and engagement. “You want to really show people why its great to show up in your store,” she said. “Video has been around for 71 years. It can really be at the center of your ecosystem.”

New YouTube products include a video creation marketplace, which matches advertisers with videos, and Google Hangout, which sets up online engagement with customers, even doing two way taping that can later be used for testimonials.