Tag Archives: iPhone

Oodle’s iPhone App: Mostly About the Camera

Classifieds haven’t been especially enhanced by mobile apps – although it is nice to have them on the go when shopping for a car or a house. But Oodle keeps pushing the envelope with its effort to bring the world of social media to classifieds.

The classifieds site, which also acts as a platform for clients such as Facebook and WalMart, has now added an iPhone app that CEO Craig Donato says is less about search than it is about making it easier to post items. “We’ve made it really simple. You post an ad, take a picture and you’re done,” he emphasizes. The iPhone isn’t just a phone, he adds. “It is a wireless camera.”

The app also makes it easier to see what you friends (and friends of friends) are looking for via Facebook Connect. Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of the site’s traffic is via Facebook Connect, says Donato. “Mobile and social are very interrelated.”

Friends that have too many friends (i.e. 2500 friends) kind of water down the exclusivity on this. Their friends could be just about anybody. But it still interesting. “Classifieds exist as a second degree of connectiveness,” says Donato. “The amount of want ads is very high,” especially for items such as tickets.

Donato notes that other efforts at Oodle have been moving along, including its Oodle Pro reputation management-and-classifieds placement program, which has just gotten its 1,000th customer. “People (especially Realtors) use Pro to get leads and to focus on taking advantage of other social features.”


Realtor.com: IPhone App Boosts Phone Calls to Realtors

Realtor.com has gotten 1.3 million downloads of its iPhone app, which launched in January. “It is the fastest growing app in the category,” President Errol Samuelson told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco last week. “The content is free; the attention is priceless,” he added, riffing on the MasterCard ad campaign.

The iPhone app also provides real leads. People using it make 10 times as many phone calls to agents as email. But there is a dark side to that as well. “Seventy percent of voice mail leads are unanswered,” he says. That points to a real problem if agents don’t figure out a way to answer their phone soon, he says.

While Realtor.com has had success with the iPhone, it is also focusing on Android because it supports many more devices. Whether iPhone or Android, agents have got to not only focus on their apps, but also on their Websites. “People click on an app, then go to a website that is not optimized,” says Samuelson.

ILM:09: SMBs Benefit from More Competition to Google, Search Preferences

Yodle CEO Court Cunningham says that a major shift is occurring in SMB marketing as Google starts to give preference in rankings to merchant sites rather than to directory listings. “There are many, many more merchant sites” than there were a year ago, he noted on a panel at ILM:09 that also featured WebVisible CEO Kirsten Manger and LA Times Senior Director of Sales Andy Vogel. “That’s a potential threat to people who are directory oriented, while it is a boon to people producing rich media like Yelp and others.”

It is also shows a shift to third party sales sites as possible substitutes for directories – or so third party sites hope. It is especially important as small businesses shift a disproportionate amount of their spending on marketing from traditional media to the Web as the economy recovers.

The sales challenge, however, is that many SMBs don’t always fully understand what their expectations should be and continue to churn at uncomfortably high levels. WebVisible CEO Kirsten Mangers cited an “inflection point” in month four of a contract. Once an SMB reaches it, their churn level is likely to dramatically reduced among SMBs.

Mangers also noted that SMB sales is positively impacted by the diffusion of Web-based technologies. “Whatever happens in national will make it to local in the next eighteen to 24 months,” she said. Video, for instance, has arrived in a major way. SMBs get a five to thirty-five percent lift in conversions by including video with their website.

Yodle’s Cunningham echoed Mangers on churn issues. “After six months, people are very, very loyal. Customer lifespans may be three or four years,” he said. And they should be loyal, he says, since third party sales groups do so much for SMBs. “They need the power of our ten person marketing department,” and so forth, he notes.

Cunningham and Mangers also said the search environment is getting more competitive and probably cheaper, as Google gets more competition from the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft Bing. Mangers noted that the efficacy of Yahoo is up 123 percent from last year as better technology has been applied. With relevance up significantly, “we can spend more money on Yahoo,” added Cunningham.

Money can also be spent on other marketing products. “It is not a one size fits all approach,” said Cunningham. Search advertising doesn’t make sense for every restaurant, for instance – especially is acquisition ends up costing $30-$50 a pop. If they’re smart, they’ll take a restaurant.com coupon-like approach, he said.

The LA Times’ Andy Vogel, meanwhile, said his paper has been making a different kind of pitch to SMBs, mostly focused on its broad, increasingly involved, 92 percent reach, which includes the flagship paper and its related verticals, as well as The Tribune’s other area radio stations, ethnic media, community papers and local blogs. Vogel noted that ten of the 50 most read blogs in the U.S. originate from a LA Times Media Group Brand.

“We produce tons of hyperlocal content,” he said. Tribune’s community paper in Newport Beach, for instance, produces more content and has a higher level of readership than any other local media.

On a sales level, that will be reinforced in 2010, as the sites integrate advanced mapping and geo-spatial applications. A new iPhone app, for instance, allows users to create programs and sell ads on specific streets, all nicely plotted for advertisers. “Small things like that can help customers absorb it better,” he said.. The site has leveraged this capability by adding a “geo-proximity celebrity” watch that users can tap into to report sightings of favorite stars.

Vogel also says that Tribune sales efforts are triply reinforced, thanks to a recent restructuring. “We have a sales force that includes ‘hunters,’ ‘farmers’ and ‘customer service reps,’” he says. That means “we have three people always thinking about your business.”

AT&T iPhone Ad for The New Yorker: Apps in the City

In a take off of “Sex in the city,” AT&T has taken out the back page of The New Yorker with an iPhone ad entitled “Apps in the city.” The ad, part of a series of iPhone ads using different themes and highlighting apps under those themes, features Urban Daddy, OpenTable, Wine Ph.D, Fandango and Rocket Taxi.

It is nice for AT&T and Apple to support the local apps with the ads. But otherwise, keeping tabs on local apps can be tough work. As my mobile-centric colleague Mike Boland notes, “there is no ‘local’ category in the app store, and local apps are spread throughout ‘lifestyle’ and ‘Utilities’ with no rhyme or reason. App developers self-select their category so they end up all over the map.”


New CEO at HopStop Pushes for Fast Growth

HopStop, which provides public transit routing and schedules, plus walking directions, has brought in new leadership and expects to pursue rapid growth to 200 cities. It is currently in seven markets (or eight, if you count Long Island as a separate market).

New CEO Joe Meyer, a former Quigo and eBay executive, was brought in by HopStop’s investors, which include top leaders from Quigo, a contextual search engine sold to AOL in late 2007 for $340 Million. The former Quigo execs and others came in during a funding round one year ago.The previous CEO, founder Chinedu Echeruo, is starting an African hedge fund.

Meyer notes that the service has grown year-over-year since its launch in 2005, and is “dangerously close” to profitability via several revenue streams, including contextual text ads, and direct and indirect sales of display ads. People using mass transit are good targets for “going out” services, such as personals or event ads, he says.

The service is also making increasing revenues by licensing its API. For instance, Duane Reade drug stores uses its API in the Northeast.

For a user, HopStop has been a mixed bag. Its execution has been spotty as well, as transit routing information hasn’t always been reconciled. The site has seemed unmaintained for months at a time. There have been startup issues, generally, in working with transit authorities, some of which were initially resistant to a third party site.

But Meyer says the site is over any hiccups it may have had, and currently providing excellent quality service; it has a clean new redesign; and that the brand recognition for local users in New York and other places is strong enough that people have even begun to say they’ll “HopStop” it when they are seeking transit directions (i.e. to “Google” it or “Mapquest” it).

Meyer says the service also competes well with Google Transit, which has more cities but less depth, says Meyer. And it is very focused on B2C, while other services, such as Urban Mapping, are more oriented on B2B, he says.

“It is a very utilitarian service that gets users from ‘point a’ to ‘point b’ via walking and mass transit directions, he says. “We’re very unique in what we do. We’re aggregating together a seamless user experience.”

While HopStop does well as a destination site, Meyer says it also is very complementary to local media partners. Companies such as CitySearch, Yelp, OpenTable, Yellowpages.com and Fandango would be natural partners, along with newspaper sites such as The New York Daily News and The New York Times. The site currently works with The New York Post, The Village Voice, Intuit’s Boorah and others. “We’re national in scope and local in nature,” he says.

Looking forward, Meyer has set a course for a very aggressive growth plan. The site is currently in New York (and Long Island), Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, London and Paris. In August, it launches in Philadelphia; In September, it launches in Los Angeles; and in October, it launches in Atlanta. “We’ll have over 200 cities” when the build out is finished, he says.

The key to launching in a new city is not whether they are primarily mass transit-oriented, Meyer adds. It is whether a lot of people use mass transit. Car-obsessed Los Angeles is actually a “Top 5” mass transit city, he points out. Atlanta is in the top 10. The site also provides intra-city information for Amtrak and various bus lines. “We put people in the seat of mass transit,” he says.

Mobile also plays a major role in HopStop’s development. “We are continually improving and enhancing the user experience,” says Meyer. “We’re the perfect mobile app.” Platforms include iPhones, a WAP site and SMS. Also in development is a Blackberry app.

Now on the iPhone Top 10…RepairPal

The iPhone app store now has 15,000 apps available. So what’s No. 8 (among the free utilities)? RepairPal, an auto site that uses the GPS capabilities of the iPhone to deliver repair auto estimates, a comprehensive repair shop directory and a roadside assistance feature. RepairPal ranks behind such iPhone apps as Sound Grenade, WiFi Checker, myLite Flashlight and iStethoscope.

The app has been downloaded 25,000 times and was voted a “staff favorite” by Apple. CEO David Sturtz, a former hedge fund analyst, says the site began development a year-and-half ago, initially building a database with the assistance of 26 mechanics and parts specialists. The initial group continues to consult for the site’s network, supplemented by six full-time specialists.

“We’re two inches wide and 20 miles deep,” says Sturtz, adding that similar repair projects, one by a prominent car portal, ended up as major failures. “We’ve created everything ourselves,” he notes.

“Our veteran technicians have identified typical problems that occur on each make/model by system,” add Sturtz. “You can alleviate some of the diagnostic risk you confront at the mechanic. We also have an extensive encyclopedia with articles written for people like my mother.”

RepairPal launched last year at around the same time as DriverSide, which was started by former Stepup exec Jan Dunning. That site is more broadly oriented than repair, “designed around the car you drive, with tools that make it easy to buy, own, and sell your car.”

Eventful CEO on $10 Million Funding, Mobile, and Ticketmaster Deal

Eventful, which competes with Zvents for leadership (and affiliates) in the fast changing local events marketplace, has just completed a new $10 million C round lead by Telefonica Capital. Also participating are alumni investors, including Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Bay Partners. In all, $19.6 million has been raised.

CEO Jordan Glazier notes that the company now has 1,200 partners using the API and syndicating data, including The LA Times, Topix, Ripple TV and leading mobile application providers such as Earthcomber, Loopt and uLocate. More than eight million users have registered for the service, and there are typically six- to-eight million events to choose from.

The new money will basically be used for expanding sales and marketing, says Glazier. “We are expanding our lead in the local events space, kicking in on monetization, and our revenue is growing, for both online and mobile.” There has been especially strong interest in the company’s iPhone application, he says.

In addition to announcing the new round, Eventful has also announced a new comprehensive marketing deal with Ticketmaster that includes reciprocal advertising, direct access to Ticketmaster sales, and use of Eventful’s community features, including its email matching platform, which sends targeted email to users based on their stated interests. Indeed, music events are the real backbone of the service, although author and comedian appearances also score high.

Another top feature is Eventful’s “demand” service, which allows users to vote to bring a musician or other public figure to a community. 50,000 performers have registered for the service, and 75,000 “demand” events have taken place already.

The demand feature has been especially active for politics in this presidential election year. The Obama campaign has used the service to mail out 2.5 million emails to help strategize where the Obama-Biden ticket should make appearances. The campaign has received 131,854 “demands” in 8,034 communities.