Category Archives: Misc

BIA/Kelsey Presents ‘Enlisting SMBs for Card Linked Offers’ at CardlinX Forum April 7

Local marketing has increasingly been about non-advertising channels, including Web sites, reputation management, social media, prepaid promotions and big data analytics. In recent months, much of our attention has been on the leveraging of card payment information before, during and after transactions – especially for promotions and analytics.

Card-linked offers and transaction marketing will only get more impactful as commerce transitions to mobile. As they say: “You are not what you search for, you are what you buy.”

With this in mind, a wide range of companies banded together last October in The Cardlinx Association to develop common standards and awareness for the space. Cardlinx is now set to launch a one day event April 7 at The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (before The Electronic Transactions Association conference.)

Cardlinx has developed a great lineup, including many industry leaders — some of whom you’ll recognize from BIA/Kelsey events. Some of the more familar “names” include Erik Jorgenson, Microsoft; Dom Morea, First Data; John Bax, Living Social;Eckart Walter, CardSpring; Patrick Grady, Deem; and Schwark Satyavolu, MasterCard.

BIA/Kelsey is also involved: we’re running a session entitled “Enlisting SMBs for Card Linked Offers.” We’ll pair some brand new BIA/Kelsey research with presentations from Ed Braswell, CEO, Edo Interactive; Doron Friedman, CEO, SpotOn; and Kevin Lewis, Director, Strategic Solutions, First Data.

Cardlinx is giving BIA/Kelsey community members $100 off registration prices. Just write “BIA/Kelsey” in the comments section when you register,and it will be taken off the fee.

Radius Intelligence Raises $13 Million Round; Eyes D&B’s SMB Business

Watch out Dun & Bradstreet. Radius Intelligence is coming.

Radius, a five year old, San Francisco based firm formerly known as FWIX, is gunning for D&B’s SMB data business by scraping the Web for insights into how users find and engage SMBs, and then providing leads for them. Today, Radius announced that it has raised $13 Million in new financing. The new amount comes on top of $15.2 Million raised in prior rounds.

The new round is led by Formation8 Partners, which has been joined in this round by prior investor Blue Run Ventures and CEO Darian Shirazi. American Express, Western Technology Investment, Stanford University and Comcast Ventures participated in earlier rounds.

Speaking at BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media event in December, Shirazi said the company is committed to “empowering people to make good decisions around big data.” Radius scrapes the Web and uses additional sources to provide a rich picture of SMB engagement with customers and comparing that data with their competitors. Social media, news, listings, neighborhood information and other sources are all indexed.

Radius says it accurately categorizes firms based on such usage, and provides leads based on the types of customers it sees by looking at SMBs and their competitors. Leads programs begin at $99 a month, and the company is already pulling in “millions of dollars in annual recurring revenue,” according to figures cited by The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital blog. The blog quoted Shirazi as saying that Radius’ goal is to reach $10 million in annual recurring revenue this year.

At our ILM conference, Shirazi argued that his firm’s cloud-based approach has become much more relevant than the “antiquated,” “spreadsheet” approach taken by traditional data leaders, such as D&B and others. Historically, a good chunk of their business intelligence comes from SMB suppliers, said Shirazi. But SMBs have “moved from checks to credit,” making it more difficult to get an accurate snapshot about a business from their purchase data (i.e. how many cups have been ordered by a restaurant, etc.)

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Radius Intelligence CEO Darian Shirazi

More Exec Changes at ReachLocal Amidst Advertiser Growth

We’re watching ReachLocal closely, and note some changes at the company. Reach has been pushing the envelope as it transitions from a company that is largely dependent on reselling search and display to one that has a deeper relationship with SMBs via a wide range of platform services – and a direct relationship with consumers as well via service leads, placement and transactions.

Today, during its 3rd quarter earnings call, Reach announced the departure of President (and SMB Digital Marketing Keynoter) Nathan Hanks. Hanks follows founder Zorik Gordon out the door and will be replaced by CRO Josh Claman, who joined the company in August 2012 from Dell and NCR. Interim CEO (and DoubleClick Cofounder) David Carlick remains in place.

The announcement was made during the company’s Third Quarter earnings, which emphasized that the company has expanded its advertiser base 11 percent from a year ago, to 24,600. It also grew its advertiser campaigns 11 percent , and now has 34,600 active campaigns.

Additionally, international operations in 16 countries have become increasingly important to the company’s revenue mix, with 34 percent of its revenue now coming from international, up from 29 percent in 2012.

JD Power Auto Roundtable: Digital Auto Ecosystem Shifts

With the majority of U.S. auto buyers now using online and mobile in their research, the auto sites are clarifying their individual roles in the auto ecosystem – and making adjustments where necessary.

This week, a panel of car site leaders at the JD Power Auto Roundtable in Las Vegas – including Cars.com, Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar.com — suggested there were two extremes among them. On one side, you have the national verticals that are the successors to the classifieds industry and provide rich information about cars and the buying journey, lead by AutoTrader.com and Cars.com. On the other side, you have sites focused more on providing price estimates for autos, such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar.com.

Finding a balance between pricing and dealer engagement has been the industry’s challenge.

“Price, while important, is not the sole principal,” said Cars.com SVP Alex Vetter. Most people want to know who to buy from and the quality of the service department. Taking care of customers post sale means a lot to them and they will pay more than the lowest price.

Indeed, a focus on price is seen as a “race to the bottom. “As marketers, we are touting unique value propositions, product quality and things we want to promote.” Vetter notes that Cars.com’s deep editorial content, and growing mobile channel, provides context and relevance for the site’s network of 20,000 dealers.

Edmunds.com President and COO Seth Berkowitz , however, suggested that the presentation of price really is important – so long as it is provided in a rich context. By providing price points that have been paid by other customers, along with price quotes by the dealers, better trust is fostered with consumers. When dealers make promises and keep them, we’ve seen a 10% bump in satisfaction ratings, said Berkowitz – an important boost, as dealer profits are often made less from sales as loyalty efforts such as car trade ins and service.

Berkowitz said that the site now works with 6,000 dealers and is becoming more dealer-centric, rather than relying so much on advertising from the manufacturers. The site’s revenue split is currently 60 percent advertising, 40 percent dealers. By next year, it should be 50/50.

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TedX: The Rise of Local Ted Events


One of the most amazing cyber-stories is the redevelopment of the elite TED – Technology, Entertainment and Design –conferences into a multi channel, multi city and multi country branded phenomenon. Since 2009, there have been 7,552 TED events in 151 different countries.

As Ann Wycoff writes in San Diego Magazine, Tedx San Diego is one event that has taken off. It started four years ago as a small book club a gathering and is now one of the top ten Tedx events in the world. This year, it is moving to Calit2, UC San Diego’s epicenter of innovation, along with hosting an interactive TEDx village on campus and multiple venues accommodating upwards of 500 people, including the new, tech savvy . San Diego Public Library.

Wycoff was nice enough to talk to me about the phenomenon. The TED events “provide people just what they want — immediate gratification and inspiration,” I opined.

“One of the ironies of the internet era is it has reinforced how much people really want to get together to build community. People don’t just want to be cyber-relatives—they use that as a touching-off point for genuine relationships. This type of event phenomenon, both free and paid, is a major part of the next generation’s social life.”

Local Onliner Bookshelf: Christopher Schroeder’s ‘Startup Rising ‘

Let’s just concede that Silicon Valley is the biggest hub for Web activity, and that it has some real advantages over other locales in terms of engineering and programming talent, fundraising and industry attention. But Silicon Valley’s tech-centric view –which is less oriented towards media and content smarts and culture– doesn’t always hit the bull’s eye. We certainly find a lot of talent in Seattle, Boston, Austin, New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City.

There is also fantastic new activity in countries like the U.K., Germany, Finland, Israel and China. But can countries without a core tech center also cut it? A significant challenge is posed by the countries of the Middle East, including Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, The UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Former Washington Post. Newsweek Interactive and HealthCentral CEO Christopher Schroeder, in his powerful new book, Startup Rising, focuses on how the tech community in the Middle East has not only developed a solid infrastructure for new Web and mobile companies, but has been an important driver of democracy and social progress as well. In fact, the new generation is demanding a life and opportunities that its parents and grandparents never had (See Google’s Wael Ghonim’s leadership role in the Egyptian revolution).

Schroeder got involved in the Middle East as an adviser to several companies and as a judge for a State Department startup competition in Cairo. Prior to his direct exposure to the region, Schroeder concedes he probably held the patronizing view of the region as lacking the political and economic freedom, or the culture or technology infrastructure, to develop startups from scratch. It is not just that women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. It is also that the Arab culture itself seemed unable to accept failure.

But in studying the startups of The Middle East, Schroeder discovers a lot about the grit of the entrepreneurs who organically build apps based on their real day to day needs – some of them desperate (Amazon-like ecommerce sites, social nets, online education, traffic apps, event guides, restaurant review sites, investor guides) And as he points out, entrepreneurship isn’t exactly new to the Middle East – it has been going on for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient bazaars.

Ecommerce especially drives the activity here, as the region moves from a cash on demand culture. But so does mobile, in its leapfrog over the landline based telcos that have held back the countries. And so do women – many of whom — even in their hajibs and burkas, in some cases — are focused on educating the next generation, and working to develop new services.

Schroeder points out that the entrepreneurial efforts in The Middle East can be broken down into Improvisers that play off successful sites elsewhere; Problem Solvers that take over roles once reserved for government; and Global Players that can impact any market.

Developments in the Middle East, of course, are at the book’s core. But what really makes this book important to the tech community — and a worthy complement to other “startup” tomes such as David Kidder’s “Startup Playbook” — is that it strips away the hubris and conventional thinking of what has made startups successful in the U.S. Instead, it focuses on the passion and creativity, real needs of consumers, and community that really anchor next generation services.

We are proud to announce Chris Schroeder’s keynote at BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media conference Dec. 10-12 in San Francisco.