Tag Archives: DMS ’11

DMS ’11: Google’s Zagat Purchase and the ‘Open Garden’

The walled garden approach may be history, as too many consumers are cut off from access. But companies still want to control customer activity, and will now pursue more of an “open garden” approach, suggests Halogen Media’s Peter Horan, a former leader at IAC and GoodMail.

Horan, who was speaking last week at DMS ’11 in Denver, says that the trend is perfectly clear in Zagat’s passage from a standalone premium product to a Google property, where Google will seek to open it up and grab more diners as they shop for restaurants. “Increasingly, we ‘re seeing people point to a place,” says Horan.

Google, Amazon, eBay and Apple will all be eagerly seeking such open garden opportunities, Horan adds. The first click represents “upstream control of the customer.”

Horan notes that the battle for local itself will be differentiated between “efficient” local and “effective” local. Efficient local has been the common approach but it has just two percent penetration, he says. Citysearch, with its huge sales force, was probably an example of this. But effective local is a guy going down the street and swaying: ‘Mr. Florist, do you want to work with us?’”

Merchant Circle might be more typical of effective local, even with a small staff of 25 people. The Reply.com property has 1.6 million SMB accounts. Horan, who invested in MerchantCircle when he was at IAC, appeared on the DMS panel with MerchantCircle co-founder Ben T. Smith IV and Reply.com CEO Payam Zamani.

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DMS ’11 Takeways: Consolidate and Verticalize

We’re over it by now. Yellow Pages aren’t universally used anymore, or as frequently used; and that there is a lot of competition for driving small business sales.

But at BIA/Kelsey’s DMS ’11 Summit last week in Denver, one walked away with a real appreciation of the foundational role that Yellow Pages still play in the SMB ecosystem; the role they may potentially play – perhaps in partnership with other media ; and the robustness of SMB ad channels in general.

As YellowBook CEO Joe Walsh noted, while the industry is definitely “in the beginnings of a shakeout or consolidation, “usage is way stronger than the perception of usage. We have to work around that perception. Yellow Pages will be around for a while. They provide a terrific ROI for advertisers.”

Walsh went so far as to lobby for intra-industry mergers, something that brought some rolled eyes from audience members , some still tied to the old wars of the phone company originated utility books versus the independent books, which originally came on the scene underpricing the utility books by 50 percent or more. Now, however, they often have common financial investors.

“Over the next couple of years, you will see coming together a lot of competitive factions within the business,” says Walsh. The advantages will include “price stability, the doubling of usage for surviving products, a higher ROI to advertisers, product stability and extended life, and a business model that can survive and grow.”

Walsh bragged that Yellowbook is still “outperforming others by six or seven times. But we are still shrinking,” even with digital growth at 18 percent or more in some heartland markets. “My advice to you is to suck it up.”

Yellow Pages can also do more than suck it up, of course. Specifically, they can verticalize their offerings. Golden Pages CEO Nir Lampert told the DMS audience how Golden Pages, which is Israel’s largest Yellow Pages company, has used online verticals focused on medical recommendations and price comparisons to remake itself into a growing company. Without the verticals, “we’d otherwise decline,” he said.

In 2010, online made up seventy percent of revenues, or $75 million. It will be 80 percent in 2011.

Lampert said that vertical development has focused on five consumer needs: Reliability, necessity, affordability, emotional involvement and specialty. “We built products that support decisions in vertical segments,” said Lampert. A lot of it is based on shared services with print and other verticals. “We realized that shifting to online is, in itself, insufficient.”

DMS ’11: AT&T Interactive Deals Set for 10 Markets by Q4

AT&Ti Deals are now in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, and will likely be launching deals offerings in ten markets by the fourth quarter of 2011, according to AT&Ti VP of Business Development Todd Rose, who was speaking at DMS ’11 in Denver. By “early 2012, there will tentatively be a few dozen. The timetable might be accelerated based on how the deals distribution and ecosystem shapes up,” he adds. For the time being, a team of dedicated sales reps are being used.

For AT&Ti, deals represent “an offensive opportunity,” adds Rose. “The product gets into a customer segment we haven’t historically served very well.” At the same time, AT&Ti has an unexpected advantage: a customer centric approach. Pure plays such as Groupon need to max out the opportunity with every deal, whether or not it meets the needs of merchants or users, he suggests.

While the deals are currently focused on customer acquisition, like most deals providers, Rose says that the company’s DNA is to help local customers both acquire and retain customers. As time goes on, the focus will be more about retention,” he says.

Rose also notes that AT&Ti is currently discussing a range of partnerships with major brands on the Web, as well as with Location Based Services. “They may not have the appetite or resources to build up a local sales force,” he says. “It is a perfect time to engage with them.”

How We Are Thinking About DMS ’11: The SMB Summit

Our DMS 11 conference is taking place in downtown Denver Sept 20-22. It’s a Yellow Pages conference, and in fact, has been the industry standard for many years.

But this year, it is also a local search conference; a coupon and promotions conference; a local mobile conference; and a social media conference. The connector isn’t the Yellow Pages industry-in-a-vacuum anymore. It’s really the much broader, SMB customer base.

At DMS ‘11, we’ve invited a “who who” of important executives and thought leaders transforming SMB marketing. People like; Facebook’s Rita Fabi; Where’s Dan Gilmartin; InfoGroup’s Clare Hart; Microsoft’s Pay Hayes. AT&T Interactive’s William Hsu. Trulia’s Paul Levine; Trada’s Neil Robertson; JoinHere’s Justin Sanger; UrbanSpoon’s Fred Dimsa; and Closely’s Perry Evans.

You’ve known a number of these executives over the years — some have been at several companies by now. They’re taking that experience and moved it into the next generation of SMB marketing.

There are many, many interesting, valuable speakers participating in this event. And the attendee list is equally distinguished. Shall we see you in Denver? The cheap hotel rate has been extended. You can register here.