Tag Archives: local.com

Local’s Spreebird Broadening its Approach to Deals

Local Corp. has branched out in several directions in an effort to leverage its local platform. It has recently acquired Krillion (retail and product search) and Rovion (rich media platform and integration). Another major effort is its development of Spreebird, a deals company being built on top of its acquisition of Southern California’s Screamin’ Deals.

Spreebird has been mostly differentiated in the deals space by its profit share with local schools or charities. Users can designate which school or charity they want to designate 10 percent of the deal’s net proceeds for. To date, $650,000 has been donated, or 10 percent of its net profits.

The site, after roughly six months, has now unveiled a new look that gives it a stronger visual ID that is more feminine (more than 80 percent of its users are female.) The site has also revealed a new tagline: “Shop Smarter. Make a Difference.”

SVP Malcolm Lewis tells us that the site is really focused on providing a better shopping experience, and isn’t limiting itself to typical deals entitles such as restaurant and spa deals. A recent deal, for instance, sold several hundred sets of bath towels and bedding, he noted.

Deals are being highly targeted based on a number of algorithms for location, purchaser history and the popularity of the deals category. The algorithm will recognize buying patterns, he says.

Spreebird is also set to move beyond deals, which is just one of six promotional categories that he envisions (but won’t reveal.) The site is also very mobile-centric, with a “significant percentage” looking up deals via daily alert emails and mobile browser, although the percentage actually buying from mobile is much smaller.

In all, Lewis envisions that Spreebird isn’t trying to be a generic deals site. He thinks the site could compete as a strong premium niche, “like Volvo.”

Local.com’s Spreebird Solidifies Deals Strategy; Buys Destination Site

Aiming to be a Top 5 deals site by the end of next year, Local.com today announced that it has bought southern California’s Screamin’ Daily Deals to provide the infrastructure for its Spreebird daily deals site. The site has been purchased for $12.5 in stock, cash and relief of debt , with two year, performance-based earn-outs possibly bringing the founders up to $20 million more.

Local.com hopes to leverage the existing company user base and technology and organizational infrastructure, and scale it through its own 22 million unique visitors around the U.S. SDD is currently operating in 14 markets. The vast majority are in southern California, but the company has also set up shop in Salt Lake City. In addition to daily deals, the company has recently launched travel deals.

SDD grossed $2.4 million in 2010 and $4.4 million during the first half of 2011. If average deal sizes were $30, that would translate into 80,000 deals and 147,000 deals respectively. One differentiator to the site is its focus on “School Rewards,” which has already brought in $409,142 to 700 local schools and non-profits. The company donates 10 percent of its share of deals – or roughly 4-5 percent of the cost of deals – to the program. Local.com says it will continue to build on the program, which complements a charity program it runs that provides one percent of profits to local charities — when it is profitable. Last year, it donated $140,000.

SDD’s 60 employees have been based in San Juan Capistrano, CA, but will move to Local.com’s Irvine location, which is about 10 miles north. Its three C-level founders will become Spreebird’s VP of sales and marketing, product and operations, respectively. They report to Local.com SVP and Spreebird GM Malcolm Lewis. The deal fits a recent pattern of Local.com buying southern California companies. It had also recently purchased Octane 360, a SMB optimizer based about 30 miles north of Irvine.

We spoke with Malcolm Lewis and Local.com CEO Heath Clarke about the acquisition. They say SDD gives them “a real business platform with very comprehensive back office automation.” While there had been hopes among some that the company’s $450k acquisition of iTwango at the end of 2010 would serve a similar need, iTwango’s real strength was limited to technology and it has mostly been used for personalization, says Clarke.

One of the real advantages of working with a local destination site like SDD is that it already has formed direct relationships with local merchants. As the daily deal space shakes out, this is going to be a key battleground, says Lewis.

One area that Local.com now hopes to innovate in the deal space is its marriage of merchant inventory with deals via its recent acquisition of Krillion. With 70,000 products from 15,000 retailers, “We can pull heavily discounted inventory from big box retailers” for deals, says Clarke.

Clarke adds that the company is “already a Top 10 deals player based on revenue. Our aspiration is to be a Top 5 player by the end of next year. And we intend, ultimately, to be Number 1 in community deals.”

Local.com’s Malcolm Lewis is a featured speaker next Monday and Tuesday at BIA/Kelsey’s Deals3D conference in San Francisco. You may register here.

Local.com Buys Krillion.com; Will Integrate Retail Information

Finally, we have the long awaited merger of a directory with a retail solution. Today, prior to its earnings call, Local.com announced it would integrate product and store availability into its growing suite of women-oriented services by acquiring Krillion.com. The sale price was $3.5 million.

When it was launched in 2006, Krillion was a real pioneer in bringing search engine optimization to the fore for products. It was built on the idea of tying products closely to vertical shopping categories. Some of its initial ideas didn’t work. SEO, for instance, proved to be a poor substitute for destination traffic when it comes to retail. But the company has continued innovating.

Local’s acquisition cost appears to have been well below Krillion’s $9.1 million capitalization, per peHUB. But it is more than a good deal. It gives Local entry into shopping, and pits it against other shopping-driven initiatives, including eBay, via its $75 million acquisition of Milo.com. Other major competitors include JiWire,,Wishpond and now Sale Locator, a privately funded initiative. ShopLocal, of course, remains the granddaddy in the space as it ventures beyond the traditional domain of weekly store circulars.

Krillion comes with a rich set of features that should help Local right away. These include an archive of product images, and information on current pricing, manufacturer/ retailer discounts and real-time in-stock information.

It also has a structured index of 70,000+ products for 1,200 brands across a number of vertical categories, which now include appliances, baby gear, consumer electronics, computers, tools, video games and home & garden. More than 50,000 retail locations are tracked.

Most of this can now be neatly tied into Local.com’s expanding suite of services, which include Local’s directory, the Octane 360 SMB network, the Rovion rich media ad network, and Deals (via Spreebird, the newly announced brand for its deal a day). In addition to the Local properties, Krillion can continue to serve its own network, which includes Consumer Reports, SuperPages, ShopSavvy, Topix, Yp.com and The Find.com.

Under terms of the deal Krillion CEO Sherry Thomas-Zon becomes Local.com’s VP, Local Shopping, and the 13 person company remains headquartered in Mountain View rather than relocating to Local’s southern California location.

Local.com Creates ‘Social Buying’ Division

One of the bigger questions is how the local portals will fully leverage the emerging social deals platform, with deal a day, coupons, flash sales et al. Local.com, which reaches 22 million unique visitors via its destination site and network, has been wrestling with the question as well.

Today, the company has announced that it has created a separate social buying business unit. The new unit, which will roll out its first products in mid-2011, is being built on the back of iTwango, a deals service it acquired in late December. The unit will also work with a syndicated offers platform that was unveiled with Local.com’s women-oriented relaunch in November 2010.

Malcolm Lewis, the founder of Premier Guide, an online directory for hundreds of broadcasters and newspapers, has been named to run the unit. Lewis was an executive for Local.com after its purchase of Premier Guide. He then branched off to launch Fablistic, a social recommendations engine.

“Daily Deals are not the end game,” Lewis told us. “That’s too narrow a view of the offer space,” which he notes, also includes coupons, flash sales and other promotions. “We are always looking for ways to connect with customers to add incremental sales.”

Lewis adds that “customers” means both local small businesses and national advertisers seeking to target local consumers. ”Local.com’s core competency is connecting other people’s local advertisers to a huge network of consumers.”

Local.Com Buys Group Buying Start-Up

Local.com, which recently introduced an integrated coupon and sales platform as part of its relaunch, has announced that it will enter the group buying/deal a day space via the acquisition of iTwango, a Los Angeles-based started that launched in October. The company, founded by former Citysearch CTO Hal Oreif, will be rebranded under Local.com.

The company’s first group buying products for Local.com will be rolled out in mid-2011. They will be supported by Local.com, its various hosted sites, and its network of 1,000 plus local and regional media sites. These sites can add the deals site on a white label basis, pitting Local.com directly against such companies as Tippr.com, Nimble Commerce, Deal Current, TownHog, ShoutBack, Matchbin, Wantsa, Vendasta and Analog Analytics. At the same time, the deal network will be built up with extensive telesales and email marketing.

Local.com CEO Heath Clarke says that the Local.com diligence team was impressed that iTwango was built “almost as an exchange” that can easily funnel coupons through the platform and publish to the local.com search engine.

The whole point is to provide a broader range of services, adds Clarke, noting that group buying is a perfect fit with Local.com’s directory, its coupon and deals platform, and its Octane 360 optimization service. “We can sell through some of those on a wholesale basis.”

ILM:10: Local Content Economics ‘Not Like Demand Media’

Content farms and aggregators are a major part of the new, scaleable local ecosystem. But the rules of the road are different for local content than for general content, according to executives speaking at ILM:10 in Santa Clara.

MerchantCircle Local Content Studio GM Andy Halliday noted that Merchant Circle is pumping up its context with local content, and now has 120,000 pieces of local content from 15,0o00 contributors after just six months. “Local content has a long tail but there are fewer searches per item,” said Halliday. “It is not the same economics as non-geo topical content like Demand Media.

Halliday also noted that local is “the wild west frontier for getting content up on the Web. It needs to have ‘liveness’ or it’s just a placard. More possibilities open up with the advent of mobile with geo-tracking,” he adds.

Local.com VP for Octane 360 Adam Rioux echoed Halliday’s view, noting that Octane is custom building content that Local.com can sell targeted advertising around. He also noted that Local.com is driving much greater usage for the content by distributing t he content not only to Local.com, but to its partner network, publishers and to SMB profiles.

Perfect Market CEO Julie Schoenfeld said the company has been successfully focusing on working with publishers to monetize non-mainstream content that may have low usage at first but can be pumped up with contextual placement based on search algorithms. It is now working with 30 publishers.

“Think of every article you produce as a deposit in the vault that yields dividends over time,” said Schoenfeld. She advised the audience that with location based services becoming more prevalent, “great meta data, including local geo-targeted content about when or where it was written, is very important.”

Local Sites Prep for Black Friday, SMB Saturday, Cyber Monday

The hordes of shoppers who still enjoy standing in lines and fighting for parking spaces, on the “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving is an offline event. Or is it?

Local sites are prepping shoppers who want to see what’s available at the stores, including The Deal Map, Milo.com, Local.com and SuperPages. Other local media companies, including The Los Angeles Times, are helping small businesses get in on the game for CyberMonday.

American Express is also getting in on the game with Small Business Saturday, a promotion for SMBs that include a $25 gift certificate for consumers who shop participating SMBs, and a cash donation to Girls, Inc. of $1 per “like” of the effort’s Facebook page (867,594 “likes” have been registered.) We also noticed that Yelp is involved with the effort, listing several recommended local SMBs on a geo-targeted basis, which is really useful.

The DealMap’s effort is categorizing and mapping more than 150,000 unique Black Friday product offers at nearly 50,000 retail locations. Smart phone owners can use their phones to check out the deals when they are on the go, and will even be notified if they are near a deal. The site reports that 300,000 people have downloaded its app.

Milo.com is also in on the game, providing sales information and more importantly, real time inventory feeds for more than 5,000 products. Its inventory feeds will include major chains, such as Target, Toys “R” Us and Macy’s.

Local.com, meanwhile, has integrated the local and daily deals from The Deal map along with major retailer coupon codes and deals from Savings.com; loyalty card coupons from Coupons.com; and weekly circular ads from ShopLocal. SuperPages.com has also done a great job integrating various kinds of coupons.

The LA Times, for its part, is supporting Cyber Monday with a Shopping Directory that is being published in its Main News section on 11/29, and also accessible on latimes.com.