Category Archives: Mapping

Local’s New Year: Some Thoughts and Predictions

Over the years, we’ve seen some major paradigm shifts in the transition of local marketing to digital. In 2003, it was the rise of Google search as applied to small business –to this day, the biggest thing that ever happened to local. In 2007, the paradigm shift was the rise of Groupon and prepaid deals as a way to drive customer acquisition. This opened the door for all kinds of non-advertising marketing, from Facebook and Twitter to Card Linked Offers.

Right now, mobile is THE paradigm shift – both as a media channel, and as a geolocation device (Mobile hasn’t been a factor yet as an ewallet. But that is sure to come, with a whole new set of implications.)

Nothing happens in 12 month cycles, but this is what I see happening in 2014:

Hyperlocal Fails to Win Destination Status, Gets a Better Life as Feature
Hyperlocal seems so compelling; contextual content that can draw users who can be microtargeted on a block by block basis. But on a super hyper local basis, it hasn’t scaled as a business model or as a compelling destination site. AOL’s Patch is reported to be winding up as an independent entity, and National Local hybrids such as Examiner.com haven’t made an impact either. The one remaining super hyperlocal site is Next Door Networks, which has raised a $100 Million war chest. The site is based on user generated content and local cells of 30+ users. It is a much cheaper model than Patch’s local staff. But will it win sustained participation from users? My bet is that it won’t. But does that mean that hyperlocal is dead? In fact, hyperlocal is everywhere – in reviews, posts, articles, maps and enhanced listings. Its use is sure to grow.

The Sharing Economy Spawns Multiple Vertical Sites
One of the big local breakthroughs has been the development of shared listing sites for apartments (Airbnb), vacation rentals (BRBO) and rides (Uber). In 2014, we expect to see shared listings become more ubiquitous, with multiple entries per verticals, and the addition of many more verticals. We also expect to see an entire ecosystem grow around these sites. As AirBnB’s Joe Zadeh noted at Interactive Local Media in San Francisco, solutions are being added based on need. For instance, Airbnb has developed a freelance photographer program because hosts need good pictures of their apartments.

Social’s Impact In Local Is Too Fragmented, But Dedicated Word of Mouth Sites Make a Dent
Social leaders like Facebook and Google+ have tremendous volume at the local level. Facebook, alone, has over one million SMB advertisers. But its local usage is so fragmented that local can’t be a real focus at the vertical level. Review-based sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List get closer to the mark, and have broadened their reach beyond restaurants and service professionals, respectively. But they leave plenty of room for smaller Word of Mouth sites that can specialize in certain sectors (i.e. Plumbers) and really dig in. Look for some of the industry’s most innovative leaders try to break through with new models in 2014, including Justin Sanger with SupportLocal; Gib Olander with Local Viewpoints; and Matthew Berk with Lucky Oyster.

‘Big Data’ and Non-Advertising Marketing Boost Local Leads
The ability to base marketing on user engagement and behavior is a fantastic opportunity. Big data, specifically, mixes and matches various data bases to determine the likelihood of engagement. It has been successfully applied to support advertising campaigns. But can users be targeted as a substitute for advertising budgets? And looking forward, can transaction activity, store inventories and user location be wedded to search behavior as part of e big data? This is a greenfield opportunity in all respects. What we are looking for is the transformation of retail email and social lists to leads and promotions. Look for big data players such as Radius Intelligence, Retailigence, xAd, Urban Mapping and LocalBlox to showcase new opportunities in leads and geotargeting.

The Hunger for ‘Attribution’ Drives Big Data and Transaction Marketing
One of the biggest problems for local marketers is proving attribution – especially as users effortlessly move from a banquet of “spreadable media” – everything from articles to email to social media posts to YouTube. It is another reason we are keen on transactional media and loyalty media – the receipts say it all. Look for the gatekeepers of transaction media and loyalty marketing–everyone from Living Social to First Data, Bank of America, MasterCard, Amex , Google Wallet, PayPal and Square – to edge their way into consumer marketing.

Online Shopping Goes Local via Delivery
Interactive Local Media has largely been defined by tech factors, such as geofencing . But the growing use of online by commerce giants such as WalMart, The Home Depot, Amazon and eBay; their development of regional warehouses and delivery networks; and use of Facebook Connect-like one stop shopping suggests a new front in the war for local commerce. The imposition of local sales taxes also suggests a level playing field with local businesses. eBay’s purchase in 2013 of the Shutl courier service, and its expansion to multiple markets, really showed where this might lead.

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for reading and being part of the local community.

IMG_1104

Apple Joins the Local Wars: Coupons and Classifieds Next?

Apple finally made some moves into the local mapping wars last week with the purchase of Locationary, which helps find business locations, and HopStop, which provides transit maps and travel suggestions.

We’ll go out on a limb and predict that Apple will want to flesh out its map products with other map- focused media, such as map-based classifieds (Antengo) or coupons and deals (8Coupons).

Apple, meanwhile, has downplayed the significance of the deals, saying it often purchases “small” companies.” The reality, however, is that both companies play key roles in the emerging world of mobile-oriented, map-based advertising and promotions.

One observation we’d make: while the companies bring real value to Apple, they were going to have a hard time scaling on their own, and also didn’t have many options besides Apple, Google , Nokia (HERE) and AOL (Mapquest). Google’s purchase of Waze for $1.1 Billion was driven by the same dynamics (although Waze is arguably more of a popular Web phenomenon along the lines of an Instagram, which is why it got such a big deal).

Of the two companies purchased last week by Apple, we’ve especially been following HopStop, the #4 transportation map behind Google, Mapquest and Waze. The company has worked to develop the scale it needed for advertisers (and for Apple) when it moved beyond its New York base a couple of years ago to spread to 145 markets in six countries, with a major push set for Asia this year. Its transit maps also, conveniently, were fully integrated with Apple Maps.

CEO Joe Meyer always stressed that he had higher aspirations to get beyond the transit maps that the site is best known for. Last November, non-subway maps for biking, taxis and walking, were up about 1000 percent. – helped considerably, at all times, by crowd sourcing telling when roads were closed, train tracks flooded, etc.

Hopstop’s revenue opportunities were always limited. It got major national accounts such as JetBlue, Delta, Macys, Dunkin Donuts, JC Penney, Ikea, ZipCar and major tourism boards and Convention Centers. But the site was a small one. In May 2012, it finally decided to rely on outsourced sales from Travora Media (formerly Travel Ad Network) . “They have the arms and legs to sell ads,” said Meyer.

Here’s a post from last year about why Apple has to get Maps right. And here’s a recent closeup of HopStop.

/

Local Mass Transit Sites Benefit From Storm Chaos

Hurricane Sandy forced millions of North-easterners out of their travel routines, closing down regular transit routes and services. It also spurred a boomlet in online and mobile searches for alternative transit, as well as weather.

HopStop, a 20 person, four-year-old site, says its traffic for “non subway” searches was up over 800 percent. Biking, taxi, walking, hourly car rentals and biking usage was way up. Bus-only searches were up over 1000%, and bus-only searches were up over 1300 percent.

At the same time, subway/train-only searches were down over 30 percent over the same time frame (due to many of the subways and trains being out-of-service).

The site, which relies heavily on crowd-sourcing for transit route updates, serves 102 major markets in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K, France and Russia. About a dozen more will be added in coming weeks. In early 2013, there are plans to expand to Southeast Asia.

HopStop self-reports that it is the #1-ranked transit app in iTunes, and the #4 ranked free navigation app in iOS overall (after MapQuest, Waze and Telenav). It recently got a boonfall when it was selected as one of the transit defaults for Apple Maps.

The lion’s share of HopStop’s usage has traditionally comes from the Big Apple, its headquarters city. But with all of the outside growth, New York now accounts for less than 50 percent of its traffic, says CEO Joe Meyer. “We’re in every MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS market,” he notes.

Until recently, HopStop’s major revenue model was geo-targeted ads sold by its own network. The site can sell location aware adds based all current and future whereabouts. “Anyone interested in knowing where people are,” says Meyer. But the company switched in mid-2012 to using Travora (formerly the Travel Ad Network.) “They have the arms and legs to sell ads,” says Meyer.

Top advertisers include such brand names as JetBlue, Delta, Macys, Dunkin’ Donuts, JC Penney, BofA, American Express, Capital One, Disney, Starbucks, ZipCar, Monster, CareerBuilder, as well as major tourism boards and convention bureaus.

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 (Trails.com) and wedding maps (weddingmapper.com.) 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.

Amazon Gets into Maps and Directories Via UpNext

Amazon has reportedly purchased UpNext, the five year old, 3D mapping and directory service that now provides “clickable building”-oriented maps for over 50 cities, including 23 that are enhanced in depth. The service has experimented with a number of features, including transportation guides, events, happy hour deals etc. While the purchase price hasn’t been reported, UpNext raised $500,000 in 2011.

For Amazon, the acquisition represents a dive back into the mapping and directory wars it abandoned several years ago when it pulled the plug on its A9 directory. We expect UpNext to be integrated into Kindle Fires and other mobile media; and to leverage the map and directory capabilities for Amazon ad sales, Amazon Offers, and small business support. We also expect it to compete generally with Apple and Google, who are pursuing their own paths in local maps and directories.

We’ve been following UpNext since its inception in 1997. At that time, co-founder Danny Moon launched it with several high school friends as a project in his Entrepreneurs class at Columbia Business School.

I noted that the maps/directories were “cool, but unless you want to torture yourself, you’ll probably want to use a 3D Virtual Cityscape for less than 15 percent of your local lookups. Watching the innovation in the space, however, is thrilling. The applications are already fun, and getting more useful all the time.” The experience, of course, is likely much better today.


source: Addictive Tips

Google Integrates Zagat into rollout of Google+ Local

Zagat is Google’s great equalizer against Yelp. Google has now demonstrated why it paid $151 Million for Zagat last September by including Zagat, which formerly cost $4.95 a month (or $24.95 per year), as part of its new rollout of Google+ Local. The newly branded service replaces Google Places.

As a result of the integration, which will also feed into Google search results and maps, Google+ users will now be able to see reviews from their friends (and “acquaintances”) when they are looking up local information

While Zagat is known mostly for its 30 point restaurant reviews – more nuanced (and time consuming) than Yelp’s five star system — it now uses the same 30 point platform for 13 categories. More than 100 cities are currently served by Zagat. Outside of the restaurant space, Zagat had previously licensed its system to companies such as Anthem Blue Cross for medical reviews.

At ILM West last December, Head of Local Consumer Marketing Jeff Aguero said “the local experience is mostly disconnected. It is not consistent across user experience,” whether people are engaged in researching, finding, experiencing, reviewing, or sharing. Google’s goals are ultimately to “get more local searches, more customers, more reviews, better content, higher engagement, and more businesses online.”

Geo-Fencing Update: A Discussion with Maponics CEO Darrin Clement

A few years ago, the location of businesses became a big question mark, as well as a strategic issue, as people wanted to shop or dine nearby. These “geo-fencing” issues were especially important for Yellow Pages companies.

Since then, search has become more the norm, along with GPS-based phones, which have location baked into them. What hasn’t changed is that you still need the geo-fencing data tied with other meta data for local discovery. You still need to know what subway line is near, where the nearest parking garages are, or what your choices are for dining when you are visiting your friend in Chelsea.

Companies such as Maponics, Urban Mapping, Zillow and others are still licensing or providing their geo-fencing results. And now, the customer base is more universal among companies in the local space, along with key verticals related to schools, real estate and other verticals. Other companies, such as Yahoo, have used such data to introduce Proximity Search.

The result can be a seamless paradigm that integrates local mapping information with coupons, deals and other merchant information. But not everyone gets it.

“Some publishers still don’t get how to have cross platforms,” suggests Maponics CEO Darrin Clement. “They’re still looking for leads in the social world; still bolting on coupons to their results. They’re too intent on protecting the existing paradigm.”

Clement says mobile users, especially, need seamless roaming of information. He notes that some local services will just use the Zillow API. And it works well for startups. But Zillow only has 7,000 neighborhoods,” he notes. “We have 160,000. Zillow has 100 cities. We have 2,300 cities.”