Tag Archives: Google

Google Buys Wildfire: Social/Loyalty Anchor?

Google is adding Wildfire to its social-oriented suite of business services, paying “about $250 Million,” according to a source cited by The Wall Street Journal. The San Francisco-based company provides social media analytics for 16,000 customers, ranging from large SMBs to major brands such as Amazon, Unilever and Virgin.

Wildfire launched in 2008 as a self-serve platform that used sweepstakes on Facebook fan pages to build engagement. It has since added contests, deals, giveaways, quizzes, voting, trivia and other activities.

As CEO Victoria Ransom recently told BIA/Kelsey, Wildfire is all about “continual engagement” over social networks. It especially adds value to businesses by analyzing the best ways that they can engage and target customers with social services such as Facebook, Twitter and PInterest.

Facebook’s timeline, for instance, added a 22 percent jump in photo sharing and a 90 percent jump in video sharing. This kind of analytics can be especially valuable in shoring up the value of Google’s YouTube.

Google’s acquisition immediately extends integrated marketing efforts for Google properties such as Double Click and AdMeld via WildFire’s partnership with Adapt.ly. To be sure, social is an increasing part of their account business.

In our view, however, Google’s interest in Wildfire is ultimately more about social business services than advertising. Down the road, we look to Wildfire’s analytics reinforcing Google +, which anchors a broader suite of SMB services that includes Google Offers, The DealMap (deal aggregation), Zagat (reviews) and Punch’d (loyalty).

MLM San Francisco: Google Keynoters Focus on Optimizing Mobile

Google sees great usage and potential for mobile with features such as Google Maps, “which is one of the most popular Apps on any phone,” noted Surojit Chatterjee, head of mobile search ad products, who was co-keynoting at MLM San Francisco.

Mobile “is an extension of the Web” and can get “better usage than banner ads,” says Chatterjee. But mobile also has many challenges, especially the siloizatoin of apps. Google is working to point users to the right app,” he said.

Some opportunities are more obvious. Click to call, for instance, “has very strong adoption. It is getting even better” as Google integrates more technology that provides better interfaces, better data for execution and better measurement. Chatterjee notes that the average call duration is six or seven minutes long, and provides ample data for measuring sales quality.

Co-keynoter Brendon Kraham, Global Mobile Sales and Product Strategy, noted that “mobile is changing the way that people interact. All mobile is new behavior,” he said. It is especially hyperlocal. Priceline, for instance, said that 65 percent percent of its people looked for deals within 20 miles, 35 percent within one mile and 85 percent of those searching for a deal with mobile used the deal within one day of a search.

“Discovery is critical,” he said. “If they build it,they will come.” Kraham also said that SMBs risk being left behind. Consumers are 18 months ahead of businesses in their embrace of mobile,” he said.

SFSW: Google Offers’ Mangtini on Enabling a ‘Much Broader Ecosystem’

Google Offers has just celebrated its first anniversary and now has a presence in 40 markets, says Group Products Manager Nitin Mangtini, who was speaking Tuesday at the Street Fight Summit West conference in San Francisco.

Mangtini, who also spoke at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM East in March, stressed that Offers has gone far beyond a homogenous daily deals service. Recognizing that SMBs have different promotional and loyalty needs at different times, Google Offers now includes a variety of “seamless” promotional features and services. These include curated deals; aggregated deals via partners in Google Marketplaces, which is in 25 markets and not differentiated from Offers; SMB self-managed deals; and the Google Rewards credit card loyalty program.

Offers has also become increasingly proficient technologically, with more and more personalization and integration with Google Maps. As of last week, it is also integrated via Google + Local into Android for mobile usage.

Each of the activities reflect Google’s core competencies, including targeting technology, insights and consumer support, says Mangtani. For any partners that want to work with it, Google seeks to promote deals that are more oriented towards quality than sharp discounts. In return, it provides “scaled audience reach and targeting,” he said. “We are a big believer in the ecosystem. We would like to partner with more of you in this industry.”

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.”

First Person: Signing Up for Google and Intuit’s ‘Get Your Business Online’

Google has been taking out major newspaper ads to promote its new “Get Your Business Online” initiative, a partnership with Intuit that lets SMBs claim a place, update information and provides a free web site. It is a strong effort to get more SMBs online, and buying services. More than 14 states are up and running.

According to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor survey of online SMBs, 66 percent now have websites, although the overall percentage of SMBs with websites is probably lower.

I saw a series of ads for the effort in The Los Angeles Times. The ad listed as the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, the LA County Business Federation, The NFIB, the California Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Score and Intuit as partners. The ad copy promised that “It’s easy. Really fast. And really free.”

In smaller type, it notes that the free website includes domain name and hosting for one year. To me, that doesn’t qualify for “really free,” but it is still a good deal.

The ads were timed to coincide with a series of southern California workshops for SMBs. One of them had more than 1,000 sign ups.

Although I don’t need a new website, I decided to see what was behind the curtain. After clicking past an introductory page that had some SMB tutorials, the site offered to let me sign in via my Gmail account, which was automatically rendered.

What was offered was a “free, easy to build Intuit website; free customized domain name; free web hosting for one year; and free online tools and training.” After the first year, it is $4.99 a month and your domain name is $2 a month – which adds up to $96 a year.

If you already have a domain name, like me, you can import it for free. The hosting alone makes this a great deal. I currently pay about $120 a year for Host Gator (which does a great job.)

The service is also promoting a website search engine boost for $4.99 a month, which promises to submit content for constant updating and improved search ranking. Interestingly, this offer did not appear today when I checked on the site, but it was prominently displayed on Sunday.

I didn’t submit my credit card and won’t get a site at this time. Knowing me, I’d probably forget to cancel it. But the service is clearly set to boost SMB penetration, and will not only help SMBs get online, but also help Google and Intuit sell a lot of services once the SMBs are locked in.

Milestone: Yelp’s IPO is Today

Yelp is IPOing today at $15 a share, allowing it to raise $123 million on a valuation of $900 million –$400 million more than it was apparently offered by Google a couple of years ago.

We know from the S1 that Yelp earned $58.4 million in net revenue in the first nine months of 2011, representing 80 percent growth over the first nine months of 2010. It also has 22 million reviews, and sees 61 million monthly users.

During the first nine months of 2011, the company claimed 19,000 paid accounts – up 75 percent from the same period in 2010, And 529,000 claimed pages –up 114 percent. Its ability to convert claimed pages into paid accounts is going to be where the action is.

It must also continue to penetrate deeper into restaurants, amidst tough competition from Google/Zagat and others. At the same time, it must continue to expand beyond restaurants deeper into shopping and services.

Restaurants and dining now make up 23 percent. Other major segments include shopping (22 percent), services (10 percent); beauty (9 percent); arts and entertainment (8 percent); Health (5 percent) Night Life (4 percent) and Travel and Hotel (4 percent). It also has a broad demographic, with 42 percent between the ages of 18-34, and 33 percent between the ages of 35-49.

ILM West: Google Exec Jeff Aguero Discusses Local Efforts

Google’s local efforts have grown tremendously under the direction of Marissa Mayer, and now encompass a wide range of products, including Google Maps, Google Places, Zagat, Google Offers, and Get Online a new SMB initiative.

At ILM West this week in San Francisco, Head of Local Consumer Marketing Jeff Aguero provided a rich portrait of Google’s thinking on local. “We are ten percent of where we are and where we need to be,” says Aguero. “There is so much that needs to be done.” He adds that Google is eager to work “closely with partners to create a rich opportunity” for all.

“The local experience is mostly disconnected,” says Aguero. “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.”

Local is obviously an important part of Google’s core search business – 20 percent of desktop search is now local- oriented. But local is “fundamentally about places. Any type of action; how does it get there; how do you share what I am doing about my experience (i.e. photos, check-in); how do I save money on a deal?”

Within Places, Place Pages is a major effort. Currently, there are 50 million, dynamically generated Place Pages worldwide. Of these, eight million have been claimed by the business themselves. “It is the greatest catalog of place data on the Web,” notes Aguero.

The big trend is the convergence of Place Pages and Host Pages. “They have the same type of audiences in different ways, “ he says. “The functionality of both entities are likely to converge.”

Expanding ratings and reviews is also clearly a major initiative. Google Places is now getting more than a million ratings per month.

Mobile, meanwhile, is in the middle of it all. “Fifty percent of maps usage is mobile,” Aguero points out. “Mobile search usage has surpasses desktop usage on holidays. “People are using mobile phones as guides to the real world on an ongoing basis. Recently, the company introduced TalkBin, which leverages mobile to provide real time customer feedback.

Google Latitudes, a check-in product, is also is getting a lot of attention, and already has 10 million users. “It is not just how many people are enjoying and sharing products,” says Aguero, noting that Latitudes has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of Google Plus social circles.

And then there is Google’s Get Online initiative, a partnership with Intuit that lets SMBs claim a place, update information and provides a free web site. Get Online started in Michigan and is now in 14 states. New tools will continue to be added, says Aguero. “We need better toolkits for businesses.” Recently, the company introduced Adwords Express, which lets businesses set up an AdWords program in ten minutes.