Category Archives: Local Search

Retailigence: Store Inventory Aids Mobile Search, Spurs Sales

Building ecommerce, promotions, search, social and same day delivery services around store inventory is one of those high concept “local” concepts that always make so much sense but have been tough to build around.

Intuit and eBay have both purchased inventory services (StepUp and Milo) and have integrated their capabilities into their other local services. eBay, for instance, has built the suite of services in eBay Local around Milo. Other key players in the space include JiWire (via its acquisition of NearbyNow), Wishpond and Retailigence. All focus on larger retailers with multiple locations, rather than mom and pops.

Retailigence, a three year old, Silicon Valley-based company backed by $4.3 Million from DFJ, Quest Venture Partners, and Dave McClure, stands out by taking an enterprise-oriented, B2B approach.

“We are 100 percent B2B. We don’t have a consumer-facing website or app, but thousands of applications rely on Retailigence in the backend,” says CEO and founder Jeremy Geiger, who comes from a supply chain management background. A major partner, for instance, is SAP, which provides management software to mid-and-large sized retailers.

The company uses point of sales (POS) integrations to gain access to real time inventory and product data, and currently works with 100,000 stores from 325 retailers. It is “a totally different use” of POS than what loyalty services such as FiveStars and Belly are doing, which is attaching sales information to individual buyers, says Geiger. “It is the inventory modules. The data is very specific. It has product, inventory and price and some description of the product.”

It is also different than the ecommerce approach taken by Google and others, which wait for sales to check inventory. “While they experiment with the use of local data in different ways, at best they are getting daily feeds from retailers. It doesn’t enable true online to offline commerce,” argues Geiger.

Geiger says that one of the fastest growing uses of Retailigence’s inventory data is to coordinate between brands and stores. Consumers have been trained to type in store names, but when they are out and about, they really want to type in what they are looking for (i.e. “iPhone charger”). “It is a more efficient and effective way” to search for goods that will spur more sales, he says – especially to smaller retailers that are often left out of the equation.

Chris Terrill Discusses ServiceMagic’s Rebranding to ‘Home Advisor’

A few years ago, it became apparent that IAC’s ServiceMagic had stalled. While the 1,200 person company has continued to show growth, and had expanded to several international markets, it was clearly vulnerable to new challengers, ranging from Angie’s List and Yelp to new companies, such as Repair.com and RedBeacon (now owned by Home Depot.)

Part of the problem may have been that its assortment of services didn’t reflect how people look for service information. Part of it may have been that after 12 years, it was a tired brand to those in the industry, and unknown to those outside of it.

Now the company has pushed the reset button under the leadership of Chris Terrill, who’d served executive stints at Nutrisystem, Blockbuster and Match.com. Terrill’s been on board for 18 months now, and has extensively studied what he has determined is a “half billion dollar plus opportunity.”

“It’s about more than improvements and home projects,” says Terrill. “It’s all things in the service space.” Looking at the competition, Terrill sees a lot of potential to carve out a unique role for Home Advisor. “There is no go-to, ‘Trip Advisor’-like brand in the homes space,” he notes.

Rebranding is key to much of the company’s next steps. Home Advisor, the name of Microsoft’s real estate portal, was purchased from Microsoft for “less than six figures,” says Terrill. “It was the deal of the century.” The new name does a lot more for the company than the limited idea of “service” and the generic “magic,” he notes. Terrill adds that a major branding campaign, including TV, kicks off in January.

“We didn’t want to stop at the name change,” Terrill emphasizes. “We have completely changed the user experience.” New elements include a project cost guide, which users can use to project the actual cost for projects right down to local zip codes. Another new feature is Home911, which is an emergency service app. There is also content for home remodeling. Users can research it to “get beyond aspirational,” says Terrill.

What isn’t changing very much is the business model, although Terrill says it continues to evolve. There are basically two options. Consumers will still receive several qualified paid leads when they are looking for work. Different pricing is in effect for the standard lead or leads from Home911. What won’t change is that consumers will receive services for free. The company’s surveys showed that 90 percent of consumers would never pay for service information.

Newspapers’ ‘Wanderful Media’ Rethinks Digital Circulars

The consortium of 12 major newspaper companies that last year purchased Travidia, a digital circular vendor, has relaunched as Wanderful Media. The consortium, previously known as ShopCo., has committed $22 Million to the venture. It has also introduced a new tablet version of FindnSave.com, a site that launched last year under the old Travidia regime.

FindnSave enables local newspapers to customize a host of promotions – i.e. deals, coupons, sales, classifieds, inventory — as a single presentation. CEO Ben Smith, a cofounder of Merchant Circle, says that FindnSave is the first of many products that the company hopes to launch. The company is working with 239 local media titles, and has a presence in 47 of the Top 50 markets. It hopes to soon reach 600 unique local websites (many brands have multiple sites).

Smith notes that he’s adding new technology and marketing smarts to the company, including 15 Silicon Valley based employees, who will take a “small team” approach to development. The company has 60 employees with the majority working at its production facility in Chico, CA, north of Sacramento.

The new product was developed based on extensive talks with its 42 national retailer clients. The lean back tablet experience of its new app promises to deeply engage its target customers, says Smith. “It is discovery shopping,” supported by the newspaper industry, which he reminds us, continues to grab $4 Billion a year in ad dollars from retailers.

Smith also cites research showing that the circular form factor remains more engaging than search or display ads for retail. Ultimately, he sees his job as updating the form factor and extending the accounts.

SMB Digital 2012: Yodle’s Cunningham Takes on ‘The Experts’

Yodle CEO Court Cunningham, in a well received presentation at SMB Digital Marketing this week in Chicago, told attendees to constantly adapt to actual conditions in the marketplace, not what the “experts” tell us.

The gist of Cunnigham’s comments were that experts are too often conflicted by their limited access to data and doing what is convenient. Long term, adaptation happens along the lines of Charles Darwin: and of course, only the strongest survive. What really needs to be analyzed are what impacts the “three pillars of local success: sales, service, and marketing ROI,” he said.

Experts for instance, would have you believe that you can’t link content back to your website without taking a hit from the search engines; that map optimization is a simple one time affair; mobile optimization only has an impact for restaurants; and single search terms are about as good as plural search terms.

But Yodle’s 50 data analysts – studying three million weekly search queries and other data linked to its 30,000 customer base – have found that content can be linked back without any real hit.

They also found that map optimization is a highly tuned issue caused by constant changes in the map alogorithms; mobile optimization has a major impact on a wide swath of sites; and plural search terms are much better than single search terms.

Mobile paid search, in particular, is critical for all businesses, drives great economics and should be treated as a unique outlet, said Cunningham.

Trulia’s S1: Strong Focus on Monthly Fees, Mobile Monetization

Trulia, which provides real estate Web and mobile leads, display advertising and real estate-oriented social media services, has followed in the footsteps of its rival, Zillow, and issued an S1 in preparation for going public and raising $75 Million.

Zillow’s IPO has been highly successful – it went out last July at $20 and is now around $35 a share, having fallen a little. Trulia is betting it can be an even stronger longterm player. The issuing of the S1 suggests the end of a great deal of industry speculation that Google or other players would buy Trulia.

The S1 provides a gold mine of new information for connoisseurs of vertical and local service data. Trulia reports that a spending surge in preparation for going public has pushed it to 22 million monthly unique visitors and 21,544 buyers, or “subscribers,” to its real estate marketing bundles – a number that has risen 46 percent since June 2011, and has plenty of potential upside with a pool of 360,000 real estate pros claiming Trulia profiles.

While the company earned $29 million in the six month period ending June 30, 2012, the spending surge has led to consistent losses and an accumulated deficit of $43.8 million. But the company feels its fundamentals are strong, even in the depressed real estate spending environment, as more and more marketing efforts move to digital. It sees a fragmented digital marketplace where its principal rivals are Zillow and Realtor.com, the longtime online real estate leader.

Average subscriber monthly spend has jumped up to $140 from $90 last year, as Trulia has kept adding more services to its bundle. Display advertising, meanwhile, has become a relatively smaller part of the mix – 32 percent — although it’s overall spending has stayed even and it appears to have good prospects to attract business from real estate and consumer brand marketers seeking to get consumers in a house buying mode (or rental.)

Trulia’s monetization of mobile services gets a special focus in the S1 – something that investors will notice after Facebook’s well publicized issues with mobile monetization, which was a major industry wakeup call.

The company reports that since launching mobile in May 2012, it “is monetizing its mobile products at a higher rate than web products.” Moreover, “users are more likely to contact real estate professionals through our mobile applications than our website.” Mobile now accounts for 20 percent of overall user traffic.

CityGrid Media Announces Jason Finger as New CEO

IAC announced today that SeamlessWeb founder Jason Finger will take over as CEO of its CityGrid Media unit April 12. CItyGrid Media includes the CityGrid ad network and Citysearch, Urbanspoon, Insider Pages and BuzzLabs.

Finger was a founder of SeamlessWeb in 1999. The company grew to 21 U.S. cities plus London during his tenure. SeamlessWeb, now known as Seamless, was acquired by food services giant Aramark in 2006, with Finger leading the business while serving on Aramark’s executive leadership council.

He’s served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners since 2010, focusing on SaaS, local businesses and e-commerce. Seamless currently competes for food delivery and restaurant online services with GrubHub and others.

CityGrid Media’s longtime CEO Jay Herratti told us he will be helping during the transition. During his eight year tenure at the company, he proved to be a pivotal figure in the evolution of interactive local media. In addition to acquiring UrbanSpoon, which should leverage Finger’s experience at Seamless, Herratti dealt head-on with the issue of building enough local user volume to attract merchants – a serious issue in the fragmented local world.

Next week, at ILM East in Boston, Herratti will provide insights into the evolution of local during his tenure at CityGrid. “Wrapping up my time at CityGrid Media with a BIA/Kelsey keynote seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on the future of local,” he told us.

“During my session, I will share my thoughts on where local is heading,” added Herratti. “There is so much activity in our space right now, the next year should be just as interesting as the last.”

Google Offers’ Nitin Mangtani Set to Keynote at ILM East

Here’s what we’ve been waiting to announce: Google Offers’ head Nitin Mangtani will join our great list of keynoters at ILM East March 26-28 in Boston. We believe Mangtani’s appearance marks one of the first public debuts of Google Offers, which is playing a major role in Google’s vital local strategy, along with Google Places, Google Maps and Zagat ratings and reviews.

Previously announced ILM East keynoters include Groupon Vice Chair +++ Ted Leonsis; American Express SVP of Social Media Leslie Berland; CityGrid Media CEO Jay Herratti; New York Times Research Ops VP Michael Zimbalist; and New York Magazine Digital GM Michael Silberman.

Mangtani joins Google Channel Sales BizDev Head Christine Merritt at ILM East. Merritt will provide Google’s perspective on its emergence in the local ecosystem, and the most effective way to work with Google as a partner.

The next wave of Deals is, in general, a key focus for us at ILM East, along with mobile local media, social local media, video local media, hyperlocal and locally targeted national advertising.

In addition to the keynotes from Google Offers and Groupon, we have a special Day 1 session dedicated to the next wave of deals, featuring EverSave’s Jere Doyle; Find n Save’s Christopher Tippie; Closely’s Perry Evans; and Boomtime’s Bill Bice. That session will be followed by a broader view of deals and ecommerce, which featured NextJump’s Charlie Kim; Cartera’s Jim Douglass; and Bundle.com’s Jaidev Shergill.

Other recent adds to the program include The Boston Globe’s Lisa DeSisto, who joins Boston.com VP of Digital Products Jeff Moriarty as a presenter; and MIT Sloan Associate Professor Catherine Tucker, who gives the low down on the effectiveness of local social media.

Before the show, we’re making a special trip to The Boston Globe’s R&D Lab (Limited Space, RSVP required). Or come to Andrew Shotland’s SEO for the Enterprise session, which also features SEO Expert Will Scott and Advance Digital Media VP John Denny. We’re looking forward to a great show.

Venture Capital
•David Hornik, Principal, August Capital
•Scott Maxwell, Senior Managing Director, OpenView

Mobile Local Media
• Walt Doyle, CEO, Where
• Doug McDonald, Director, dotMobi
• John Valentine, VP, East Coast, SCVNGR/LevelUp

Hyperlocal
• Merrill Brown, Principal, MMB Media
• Josh Fenton, CEO, GoLocal24
• Zohar Yardeni, CEO, Main Street Connect

Social Local Media
• Geoff Cramer, CEO, Social Made Simple
• Adam Japko, President, Digital Sherpa
• Jeff Moriarty, VP, Digital Products, Boston.com
• Mark Schmulen, GM, Social Media, Constant Contact

Video
• Juan Delgado, Managing Director, Americas, Perform
• John McIntyre, CEO, Pixelfish
• Randa Minkarah, SVP, Revenue, Fisher Communications

Deals and Promotional Ecosystem
• Bill Bice, CEO, BoomTime
• Jere Doyle, President and CEO, EverSave
• Perry Evans, CEO, Closely
• Christopher Tippie, CEO, FindNSave

Transactions
• Charlie Kim, CEO, NextJump
• Jim Douglass, EVP, Retail Advertising, Cartera Commerce
• Jaidev Shergill, CEO, Bundle

National/Brands
•Adam Epstein, President, AdMarketplace
•Pete Gombert,CEO, Balihoo
• Steve Sherfy, Local & Mobile Search, GroupMSearch
• Karl Siebrecht, President and CEO, AdReady

Elections 2012
• Andy Slater, VP, Digital Agency Sales, Katz 360

SMB Marketing
• Dave Galvan, President, Schedulicity
• Maria Kermath, Director, AT&T Ad Solutions
• Randy Parker, President, SMBApps
• Darren Waddell, EVP, Reply.com

Sign up now (and hint: reserve your room earlier rather than later).